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Discrimination: "Genuine occupational qualification" defence fails

This report relates to 1 case(s)

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    Etam plc v Rowan [1989] IRLR 150 EAT (1 other report)

    • Bar on men selling women's clothing unlawful

      1 March 1989

      In Etam plc v Rowan EOR24H, the EAT upholds an industrial tribunal finding that the employers had failed to show that a job as a sales assistant in a women's clothing store came within the genuine occupational qualification exceptions to the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 because the employers could have organised the work in such a way that a man did not have to undertake duties in the fitting room.

By virtue of an exemption in the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, an employer may refuse to employ a man in a job which involves duties that need to be done by a woman in order to preserve decency or privacy. However, as the EAT's decision in Etam plc v Rowan illustrates, that exemption does not apply if the employer already has women employees whom it would be reasonable and not unduly inconvenient to employ on the duties concerned.