Are you Discriminating Against Women in your Barbershop?
The NHF has warned barbershops that by refusing to cut a woman’s hair simply because she is a woman they are discriminating on the grounds of gender. As well as being unlawful under the Equalities Act, there is a high risk of legal claims for damages and the consequent loss of reputation.
To recap, the Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination, including those who want to receive goods or services from a business. The law says you can’t treat people differently on the grounds of ‘protected characteristics’ which include: age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, religion and race.
An NHF member told of their recent experiences: “Don’t make the mistake of thinking this could never happen to you. A lady rang to ask if we could do a haircut for her, but as we’re a barbershop we initially said no. We simply didn’t know that by not providing this service we were risking accusations of discrimination. Once we realised, we did everything possible that put things right – but not before we got a lot of negative comment on social media.”
However if a woman is asking for a service, such as long hair up, which the barbershop simply doesn’t provide, then refusing to offer it to a female client is not direct discrimination.
Hilary Hall, NHF chief executive added: “Nowadays, notions of gender are increasingly fluid – so what’s a male haircut and what’s a female haircut? Many barbershops have embraced equality because treating everyone equally can only be a good thing for your business.”