Discrimination when hiring

An employer can’t discriminate against applicants for a job on the basis of the prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Human Rights Act 1993.

Before employment

In most cases an existing or recruiting employer can’t make a decision based on, or ask a potential employee a question related to, a prohibited ground because generally this has no relationship to the person’s ability to perform a job. For example, employers can’t ask questions related to:

  • how old someone is such as: “what year did you leave school?”
  • whether a person is eg heterosexual, lesbian, gay etc
  • a person’s religion or political beliefs.

What to do about it

The Human Rights Act 1993 applies to discrimination in all aspects of employment including job advertisements, application forms, interviews and job offers. It applies before the employee has a job as well as after the person has the job. It also applies to unpaid workers and independent contractors.

If an employee thinks they have been unlawfully discriminated against during the recruitment process (before they have become an employee), they can make a complaint to the Human Rights Commission and then the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

More information on discrimination

Human Rights Commission

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions

Business New Zealand

Agender New Zealand

Diversity Works NZ (formerly the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust)

Standards New Zealand

Transgender employees

Managers and workmates must act lawfully and should support transgender employees who are transitioning or intending to transition, or are having issues at work.

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