Discrimination in advertising is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010. If an individual believes that they may have suffered a disadvantage as a consequence of a discriminatory advert this may result in a claim for discrimination being made against you or your business. This includes advertisements for jobs, the provision of goods and services and advertising of accommodation. An example of this in franchising may be an advert for “mature” Franchisees, which may be considered age discrimination, or a franchise selling goods which are only available to purchase by telephone, which may discriminate against those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Not all opportunities have to be open to everyone, but if an advert appears to be discriminatory this has to be objectively justified by a legitimate aim, and the apparent discrimination must be proportionate to that aim – for example an advert for a carer for a male patient could specify that the applicants have to be male as this is a proportionate way to meet a legitimate aim. However, note that if the aim of the apparent discrimination is to reduce costs, this may not be considered a proportionate response.