Defining Goods & Services

Laws should provide a specific and broad definition of goods and services.

Northern Ireland’s law provides an example:

(1) It is unlawful for any person concerned with the provision (for payment or not) of goods, facilities or services to the public or a section of the public to discriminate against a woman who seeks to obtain or use those goods, facilities or services

(a) by refusing or deliberately omitting to provide her with any of them, or

(b) by refusing or deliberately omitting to provide her with goods, facilities or services of the like quality, in the like manner and on the like terms as are normal in his case in relation to male members of the public or (where she belongs to a section of the public) to male members of that section.

(2) The following are examples of the facilities and services mentioned in paragraph (1)  

(a) access to and use of any place which members of the public or a section of the public are permitted to enter;

(b) accommodation in a hotel, boarding house or other similar establishment;

(c) facilities by way of banking or insurance or for grants, loans, credit or finance;

(d) facilities for education;

(e) facilities for entertainment, recreation or refreshment;

(f) facilities for transport or travel;

(g) the services of any profession or trade, or any local or other public authority.

(See: Sex Discrimination Order, sec. 30)


Legislation in New South Wales, Australia also provides a detailed definition of what constitutes services, including:

(a) services relating to banking, insurance and the provision of grants, loans, credit or finance, (b) services relating to entertainment, recreation or refreshment, (c) services relating to transport or travel, (d) services of any profession or trade, (e) services provided by a council or public authority, (f) services consisting of access to, and the use of any facilities in, any place or vehicle that the public or a section of the public is entitled or allowed to enter or use, for payment or not.

(See: Anti-Discrimination Act, sec. 4)



CASE STUDY – Austria

In Austria, sexual harassment in the provision of goods and services is addressed in the national Equal Treatment Act, but compliance with the European directive also required some amendment to national laws relative to the provision of insurance, highlighting again the importance of reviewing a wide array of national laws so as to ensure comprehensive protection against harassment. Individuals who have experienced sexual harassment in the provision of goods or services can “file an application with the Equal Treatment Commission to examine the case and deliver an expert opinion on the case [and] whether or not the law has been violated.” Cases of sexual harassment in the provision of goods and services are rarely reported, even in Europe, where a supportive enforcement regime exists. But in Austria an Equal Treatment Ombudsperson can report on cases and provide expert advice to complainants. In one instance, an electrician who was called out to a family home to do repair work reportedly harassed the daughter of the family during the course of the work. The parents sought advice from the Equal Treatment Ombudsman who consulted with the family. The situation ultimately was resolved with an apology and an offer of compensation from the service provider without the need for formal procedures. (See: European Network of Legal Experts in the Field of Gender Equality, Sex Discrimination in the Access to and Supply of Goods and Services and the Transposition of Directive 2004/113/EC, 9, 28-29, 2009)