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News > Press Releases 2018 > Discriminatory prohibition of entry into a store with a baby carriage

Discriminatory prohibition of entry into a store with a baby carriage

23. 05. 2018

A woman approached the Ombudsman with a complaint that she had often been denied access to a shop with her baby carriage. She specifically described a case involving a corner shop with over-the-counter sale. The complainant had previously shopped in the establishment with her baby carriage; later, however, the owner banned entry with a baby carriage and the complainant was not allowed to enter the establishment even when it was empty. The complainant did not want to leave the child unattended, so she had to shop in a supermarket situated further away. She considered the ban to be discriminatory.

The woman filed a complaint against the practice with the Czech Trade Inspection Authority. At first, the Trade Inspectorate for Pardubice and Hradec Králové regions only told the complainant that such a ban was not discriminatory if it applied to everyone equally. After filing a complaint against the Inspectorate’s procedure, its director sent her a letter where he noted that the Inspectorate had investigated suspected discrimination resulting from a ban of baby carriages before, but only in terms of age discrimination (i.e., discrimination of the children in the baby carriages) and had not found the ban discriminatory as it only applied to children in baby carriages, not all children. Furthermore, the director considered the prohibition of entry with a baby carriage a proportionate measure pursuing a legitimate objective, i.e. ensuring safety of customers and protection of goods against damage.

In her inquiry report the Ombudswoman concluded that in the case at hand, the blanket ban on entry with a baby carriage constituted indirect discrimination on grounds of sex (parenthood). The ban put people taking care of children at a disadvantage. Although the objective was legitimate (safety of the customers), the ban itself was not a reasonable way of achieving it, since the goal could have just as well been achieved using less severe methods (e.g. only ban baby carriages when the shop was full of customers). The Ombudswoman also found errors in the Inspectorate’s procedure: the Inspectorate initially did not address the possible discrimination at all, then it misclassified the possible grounds of discrimination (age instead of parenthood), failed to investigate the conditions in the establishment and, finally, concluded that the ban was reasonable, ignoring the facts of the case.

After receiving the inquiry report, the Inspectorate conducted an additional inspection in the establishment. The shop owner placed a text under the baby carriage ban symbol specifying that it only applied if there were many people inside the shop; according to the Inspectorate’s findings, the shop assistants were letting in customers with baby carriages if there was enough room for them.

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