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Unlawful adverts jeopardise job opportunities says Commission

Thousands of people could be at risk of being denied jobs and services each year due to unlawful, discriminatory adverts, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has warned.

Complaints about adverts which discriminate against older workers or on the basis of sex appear the most common but people are also being prevented from having a fair shot at work opportunities because of their disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation and other characteristics, according to evidence gathered by the Commission.

Scores of complaints about allegedly discriminatory advertisements reveal that many businesses are breaching laws designed to allow fair and open access to jobs and services – often without realising it.

In a little over a year, the Commission has received more than a hundred complaints that adverts were discriminatory. These included:

  • Sex or age discrimination by seeking 'young' or female workers, where this was not a necessary requirement for the job. This included an advert for a ‘Saturday boy' to work in a garage, and a bar looking for a 'part-time shot girl'.

  • Age discrimination by a recruitment agency stating that those over 45s need not apply, and by a club advertising salsa classes 'not suitable for people over 60' in a local paper.

  • Race discrimination by recruitment agencies advertising solely in foreign languages - such as vacancies for taxi drivers only advertised in Polish; or conversely restricting a general warehouse position to UK passport-holders.

  • Sexual orientation discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation when casting agencies were asked to supply only homosexual applicants to work as extras in a television programme featuring a Gay Pride story. In reality these roles should have been open to all.

  • Disability discrimination by a hotel advertising that it would not offer accommodation to disabled people.

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