Earlier this year a London-based butcher advertised the following vacancy in his shop window; for an employment lawyer, the advert provides an interesting example to highlight to employers the risk of a discrimination claim when advertising a vacancy.

Saturday Staff Required

Job vacancy signboard

No Drama Queens
No Drunks
No Drug Addicts
No Emotional Wrecks
No Mummy’s Boys
No Scruffs
Hardworking Yes

 

In the politically correct world that we live, such frank and blunt language was startling and humorous. It was therefore unsurprising that the advert was widely shared on social media before being reported on in the national press.

Most employers are careful to ensure employees are not discriminated against during their employment but may not be aware that similar care is needed when an advert is drawn up to avoid using language which discriminates.

An advert may be found to be discriminatory if indicates an intention to discriminate’ against a prospective employee due to certain protected characteristics, namely: age; disability; gender reassignment; race; religion or belief; sex; sexual orientation; marriage/civil partnership and pregnancy/maternity.

The butcher’s advert does not use language to directly discriminate but possibly some individuals may take offence, for example;
– ‘Drug Addicts’ and ‘Emotional Wrecks’ could indicate an intention to discriminate against someone with a disability; and
– ‘No Mummy’s Boys’ could indicate an intention to discriminate against someone based on their age.

In advertising the vacancy in this way, the butcher, therefore, risked a discrimination claim from a prospective employee with one of these protected characteristics who either was deterred from applying for the role or whose application was unsuccessful. If such a claim succeeded, the prospective employee could expect to receive compensation for loss of opportunity and injury to feelings.

Employers should, therefore, avoid using words or phrases that might be considered discriminatory. This can be difficult as words that can appear inoffensive or innocent can be found discriminatory in the context of a job advert. For example, “fit” or “energetic” could discriminate against employees who are old or disabled.

If you require further advice or assistance with complying with discrimination law, please contact James Edmonds or a member of the WBW’s Employment Team.