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Applying for an exemption

If you think you might need an exemption, first check to see if your program or service is already covered by an existing exemption in the Equal Opportunity Act. For example, it may be a special measure.

If it is not covered by an existing exemption, and there are good reasons for treating people differently, you can apply to the Equal Opportunity Tribunal for a temporary exemption. It may be worth seeking legal advice to see if it is necessary to apply.

Preparing your application

If you need to apply for an exemption, your application should include:

  • why you are seeking an exemption
  • how your program or service will help provide equal opportunity
  • details about your organisation for example your service and customers
  • the section/s of the Equal Opportunity Act from which you are seeking to be exempt
  • how long the exemption is required
  • what will happen if the exemption is not granted for example, evidence that you will lose customers if you cannot employ a person of a particular age, race or sex.

You should also consider the effects on your business if the exemption is granted. For example, could some of your customers or staff react badly? How would you deal with this?

Lodging your application

Applications for an exemption are lodged with the Equal Opportunity Tribunal Registry, which is part of the District Court.

The Tribunal notifies the Equal Opportunity Commission that an application has been made. In certain cases, if it has a wider public interest, the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity may support or oppose the application.

The Tribunal conducts a public hearing to determine whether it is necessary and appropriate for an exemption to be granted.  An important factor is whether or not the exemption redresses the effect of past discrimination.

For more information, contact us or the Equal Opportunity Tribunal.

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