Published on Apr 25, 2016

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Refusal of service has been in the news locally and nationally recently.

Victorian Senior Australian of the Year, Aboriginal elder and actor Jack Charles has spoken out about regularly being refused a taxi – an act he believed was discriminatory and based upon his race.

Also, earlier this month a transgender person in Raymond Terrace was refused a haircut at a barbershop, after being told the shop did not cut women’s hair.  Born female, Billy Newman now identifies as male and has started his gender transition.refuse service

A poll by the Newcastle Herald found 68 per cent of people surveyed thought barbers and hairdressers should not have the right to refuse customers based on gender.

Public opinion is one thing, but what about the law?

Refusal of service between businesses and customers is covered under Commonwealth and NSW State anti-discrimination laws.  The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) enforces refusal of service between businesses, which can fall under anti-competition laws.

Businesses are not allowed to refuse service for the following reasons:

  • age
  • disability
  • homosexuality
  • marital or domestic status
  • race
  • sex (Including pregnancy and breastfeeding)
  • transgender status

Businesses are allowed to refuse service because of:

  • dress codes
  • disruptive behaviourservice
  • legal requirements
  • safety reasons

Businesses can refuse to supply goods or services to another business if:

  • they have concerns about being paid
  • it’s too expensive to deliver goods or services
  • it’s too inconvenient to supply goods or services

Businesses cannot refuse to supply goods or services to another business if:

  • it is an act of misuse of market power
  • is part of an orchestrated boycott
  • a retailer chooses to sell at a price different from the recommended retail price

To find out more about who businesses can and can’t refuse service to, visit the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW and ACCC websites.