Physical Feature Discrimination

In the ACT it is against the law for someone to discriminate against you because of a characteristic that you have, or that someone thinks you have, in an area of public life such as employment, education, accommodation, provision of goods and services, clubs.

In the ACT it is against the law for someone to discriminate against you because of your physical features. Your physical features are your height, weight, size, shape or another bodily characteristic. These also include facial features, hair, scarring and birthmarks. Physical features may also include include piercings, tattoos or body modifications.

Example of physical feature discrimination.

A fast food company will only recruit people with a certain ‘look’, that is, a specific height, weight and build.

Paul works at a law firm. His boss told him he needed to lose weight if he wants to obtain a promotion because the firm wants clients to see all their young lawyers as fit and healthy.

Sophie has pink hair and facial piercings. A restaurant has a strict dress code for service. Sophie is wearing clothing that is in accordance with the posted dress code, but the restaurant refused to seat her.

Are there any exceptions?

There is an exception which allows discrimination in employment or work where a physical feature may be an occupational or aesthetic requirement- such as in a dramatic or artistic performance.

Discrimination on the basis of physical features that is reasonably necessary to protect the health or safety, or property, of any person, may also be exempt – for example, in elite sport or admission to emergency services where a person may otherwise be placed at risk of injury.


To find out more or make a complaint.

For more information or to make a complaint about discrimination, vilification, sexual harassment or victimisation you can contact us by:

We can provide information about the complaint process or refer you to someone who can help you further. We provide free interpreting should you need it.