A lot of companies have these, Women's groups, Black groups, LGBT groups, etc. Some of these groups are open for non-identifying folks to join (e.g., as allies) but some are not. For the ones that are not, how does this not run against discrimination laws?

Is there some exception (like a ministerial exception for religious institutions) here?

  • 5
    You should elaborate on what actions involve the company and what their policies are. For example, tolerating use of company resources for an advocacy group does not constitute illegal discrimination – where is the discrimination?
    – user6726
    Jan 12, 2021 at 0:39
  • Like if a man wants to join a women's ERG, or a white person wants to join a Black ERG, or a straight person wants to join an LGBT ERG, and these folks are turned away for not belonging to that affinity, and this is in the context of employment (ERG = employee resource group), is that discriminatory?
    – james
    Jan 12, 2021 at 2:21
  • The employer does not turn anybody away, the private organization does. The employer is irrelevant, except that it tolerates and possibly encourages the organization. At least in the US, employers have a First Amendment right to tolerate and aid private organizations with a social or political agenda.
    – user6726
    Jan 12, 2021 at 2:37
  • oh interesting, i didn't realize that nuance existed. so it's also ok if the employer provides differential levels of financial resources for that private organizations' exclusive use?
    – james
    Jan 12, 2021 at 2:58

1 Answer 1


Why would they be against the law?

Anti-discrimination law applies to protected classes in specific situations. For example, in Australia (my emphasis):

it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of a number of protected attributes including age, disability, race, sex, intersex status, gender identity and sexual orientation in certain areas of public life, including education and employment.

The types of organisations or collectives that you describe appear to be social and private - not public.

  • But if it's an affinity group at work, does that not fall under the employment umbrella?
    – james
    Jan 12, 2021 at 2:20
  • Not if it doesn’t affect the employment arrangement
    – Dale M
    Jan 12, 2021 at 3:59

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