Clifford Gouldson Lawyers

Advertising for Fit Models and Beer Maids - Maybe Rethink Your Approach

Print Version

30/11/2015

It might be cricket season but that doesn’t mean you can swing a job advertisement around anti-discrimination rules, even if you're wearing Lorna Jane active wear.

Earlier this year, fitness giant Lorna Jane received a lot of criticism over an advertisement it posted on Seek looking for candidates to fill the position of ‘Receptionist/Fit Model’.  The advertisement stipulated the successful candidate must be a ‘size small’ and be within a particular measurement range for their bust, waist, hip and height.  In addition, the position alluded to the successful candidate only being female.

The advertisement received heavy backlash and criticism and was quickly removed a few days after it was posted.  When approached, Lorna Jane stated that the reason the advertisement was removed was due to the ‘huge response’ they had received from applicants. 
 
Despite there being wide coverage over Lorna Jane’s advertisement woes, it hasn’t stopped others from seemingly pushing the boundaries when it comes to their job advertising.  

In the lead up to the Adelaide Test match, an advertisement was placed on Gumtree for ‘easy on the eye’ women to be ‘beer maids’ for the day to ‘20 handsome guys’ or head to Hobart for the West Indies test and be a ‘beer wench’? Of course, you will be remunerated for your work, though it is not certain if the ‘beer maid’ outfit is included.

Gumtree has since removed the advertisement seeking beer maids for the Adelaide Test match as it “violates” their “gender discrimination” policy. 

The above advertisements are a good reminder for employers to not blatantly ‘test’ Australian discrimination laws. 

When recruiting candidates, remember that there are rules around what you can and can't specify. In particular, it is important to remember that an advertisement cannot indicate, or be reasonably understood to indicate, an intention to discriminate on the ground/s of (for example):

  • sex;
  • sexual orientation;
  • gender identity;
  • marital or relationship status;
  • pregnancy; and/or
  • potential pregnancy.
  • in the arrangements made for determining who will be offered a job; and
  • in the terms on which a job is offered, including remuneration, access to training, promotion or transfer and dismissal or any other detriment.

 
Fines up to $5,000 for corporations and $1,000 for individuals apply for breaches of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth).
 
If you aren’t careful, you may not only find that your business receives negative publicity but also faces a discrimination claim if there is no lawful reason for the inclusion of the particular wording contained in the advertisement.  

The lesson here is, before you pick up your pen to draft an advertisement, put on your active wear, grab a bat and a ball and have a think about what type of content ought to be included in the advertisement and what content should be ‘given out’. 

After all, you don’t want to be bowled out before you have been able to score a run.

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