Corey often goes to a games shop with his mates after school. However, the shop recently changed hands and, last time he went, Corey noticed a sign at the door saying ‘No school bags’.

As Corey had his bag with him, he didn’t go in, but he was pretty annoyed about this.

Could the sign be discrimination? How?

The sign sets a special requirement for people attending school - those aged 5 to 18 years approximately.

If other customers are allowed to bring their bags in, the rule could be discrimination.

It depends on whether the rule is unreasonable.

Since any type of bag could be used to conceal stolen goods, the rule is probably not reasonable and therefore could be illegal.

What type of discrimination would it be?

This would be age discrimination because the rule is harsher on people in the school age group.

What would be a better alternative for the shop owner, if they are worried about shoplifting?

They could require everyone open their bags for inspection before leaving the store.

This does not treat any particular group harshly so it would not be discrimination.

An alternative might be to require that no bags at all are brought into the store, but this could still be legally problematic (for instance, people with caring responsibilities for small children may have to carry bags with them) and would also discourage many customers from entering the store because of concern that their bags could be stolen.

What could Corey do about it?

Corey’s options include:

  • talking or writing to the shop manager to suggest that the sign is unfair
  • lodging a complaint with our office
  • taking his business to a more student-friendly shop.