A shop exists where a tonne of shoplifting takes place by people of all races. But the security guard only calls the police on the black shoplifters.

A pawn shop gives collaterally secured loans to many borrowers of all ages and frequently they default, but the shop only pawns off the collateral items of and invoices with default fees the younger defaulting borrowers, seemingly never the older ones.

A restaurant has a rule that nobody who is under 7 feet tall is allowed entry, but they only seem to exclude customers on these grounds of not meeting the height requirements for entry who are conspicuously Muslim.

Have any of these businesses committed unlawful discrimination?

2 Answers 2



Discrimination is as much in what you do as it is in what you say.


See e.g. the Ontario Human Rights Code:

Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability.

Discrimination is almost always in the context of what would otherwise be lawful discretion.

  • Okay but can you not see the admittedly subtle distinction between opting not to contract with someone and for example acting against one who has wronged you by reporting the wrong to police, or by invoking a lien upon default, etc? The restaurant example on the other hand I feel is quite well addressed by your final remark. Oct 11 at 14:45
  • 1
    @Seekinganswers The question of whether a business is exercising a positive or negative freedom is unrelated to that of whether they are deciding to do so on the basis of a protected category.
    – Sneftel
    Nov 10 at 14:31

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