- You shouldn’t be treated unfairly when you’re at the shops or using services
- Businesses and organisations are allowed to treat you differently if you’re under 18, as long as otherwise you are treated the same as everyone else
- If you are being treated unfairly, you can complain
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child says that, as a child, you shouldn’t be discriminated against for any reason. This means that you shouldn’t be treated differently and unfairly. In Wales, the Equality Act 2010 says that this applies to services that you might want or need to use, although you can be treated differently because of your age if you are under 18. This means that you might not be able to buy something or do something because of your age – but you shouldn’t be treated differently for any other reason.
Shops and organisations providing services are allowed to say that you can’t do something because of your age. Some shops restrict the number of children that can go in at a time. Some places say that there can be no children at any time. The law says that this is OK.
Shops that sell things that are ‘age-restricted’ like cigarettes and alcohol must not sell these things to anyone who isn’t old enough. This means you are treated differently to people who are older than the age, but this is also allowed.
In most cases, it should not matter whether you are a boy or a girl or what your race or religion is – you should be allowed to buy things and access services equally.
In some cases, an organisation is allowed to restrict itself to one group of people. They can do this if the reason is to help a group of people who all have the same ‘characteristic’ (being a boy or a girl, or being a particular race or religion), and who have a disadvantage because of it. The aim of the group or organisation should be to encourage them and help them reduce that disadvantage. This is why Girl Guides in Wales only allows girls to join and not boys, even though girls and boys can join Scouts.
You shouldn’t be prevented from doing something just because you don’t speak Welsh. Some organisations in Wales run their activities mostly through the medium of Welsh as a way of promoting use of the Welsh language. This means that you might find it more difficult to understand what’s going on, but you shouldn’t be prevented from taking part.
An organisation that is providing services to the public or a section of the public, shouldn’t discriminate against you (treat you differently and unfairly) because of a disability. Service providers also have to think generally about making their business or service accessible to everyone – not just wait until someone with a disability wants to use their service.
Any business or organisation that is providing a service that you want to use has to do anything that might be reasonable to make sure that you can access their service. This means that they have to think in advance about what sort of disabilities people have, and how they can make things easier for them. It could include things like making sure entrances are easy for people in wheelchairs to use, or putting up signs in braille. What is ‘reasonable’ depends on what would be involved, what the cost is and how big the organisation is. It may be reasonable for a smaller organisation with less money to do less than a larger organisation with more money.
There are age-restrictions fixed by law that mean you can’t buy somethings or do somethings until you‘re a certain age. These restrictions are designed to protect you. Other things that aren’t restricted by law might still be harmful to you, particularly if you are young, or if you have a particular condition.
It is OK to restrict things based on age – so if an organisation says it will not offer its services to you if you’re under a certain age, this would be acceptable.
If an organisation says you can’t do something because you have a disability, and it would be dangerous for you, this could be discrimination. You (or the people looking after you) should be able to know what the risks are and make a decision about whether to go ahead or not. So for example, if a show uses the kind of lighting that could be a problem if you have epilepsy, the theatre should make it clear that this type of lighting will be used. The business or organisation should have looked at what it does and made adjustments to make it easier for people with disabilities.
No, an organisation doesn’t have to stop offering a particular service or activity because you can’t take part in it. It does have to see if it can make adjustments so that you could take part in it. This won’t always be possible, or it might be too expensive for the organisation to make the necessary changes, but it must look into making changes and make any that are ‘reasonable’.
You can complain to the organisation that has treated you unfairly. They should investigate your complaint. If they agree that they have treated you unfairly, they might apologise, and they might make changes for the future so that you and others aren’t treated unfairly again.
If you don’t want to complain to the organisation, or you have done and you aren’t happy with the answer you have received, you might want to make a court claim for discrimination. This might feel like a big step to take, but you can get support from organisations like the Equality Advisory and Support Service.