New Zealand Bar Owner Defends Gender-Biased Ad: 'Jobs For Girls' Meant To Balance Workforce

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By Reissa Su | February 26, 2014 4:57 PM EST

A popular bar in Ponsonby, New Zealand has been criticized for advertising "jobs for women only," a day after a restaurant in Stanmore Bay was revealed by the Herald to be doing the same.

An online ad by Chapel Bar & Bistro read: "We need female bar and floor staff at Chapel." The ad invited people to email if they were interested in the job. Luke Dallow, owner of the Ponsonby bar, defended the ad saying it was intentionally worded that way because businesses in central Auckland want to have gender balance.

According to the Human Right Commission, both the bar and the Masala restaurant may have violated the Human Rights Act. A spokesman for the commission said if complaints are filed against both establishments, the case will be handled in the usual way.

In 2013, the Human Rights Commission received 1,488 complaints and queries related to unlawful discrimination. The spokesman explained the commission does not investigate or prosecute those involved in the complaints. It handled complaints in a voluntary and confidential mediation.

The spokesman said it will be up to the Human Rights Review Tribunal to determine if the complaint is unlawful. If a complaint is found in breach of human rights, the tribunal can award compensation for damages up to $200,000.

Dallow said out of 54 employees, 65 percent of them are males. The bar has been in business for 22 years and he does not mean to come across as sexist by posting the ad. He added he just wanted to get the "right mix" of male and female employees.

But an employment lawyer found the ad to be in violation of the Human Rights Act. Claire English remarked there has been a lot of publicity surrounding the gender-specific ad. She said she was surprised more people have not become aware of it.

According to a spokesman from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Masala chain of restaurants is still under investigation by the Employment Relations Authority.

The Human Rights Act includes grounds for illegal discrimination where employers are not allowed to discriminate against a job applicant or employee, including their gender, religious belief, color, race, ethnicity and marital status.

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