Real Life

Can restaurants refuse entry to those younger than 16?

Can people be refused entry from restaurants based on age?
Can restaurants refuse entry to those younger than 16?

I recently booked a table for six at a flash restaurant to take my daughter and four of her close friends to celebrate her 14th birthday. When we arrived, a very snobby maître di looked at us and said that groups of “children” were not permitted in the restaurant at night. I was really angry. First of all, these girls were not “children”, and isn’t it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of age? I’ve still not forgiven this stupid waiter for ruining our night. Could I sue the restaurant somehow?

It sounds like you were very poorly handled. I won’t blame you for never returning to the restaurant even with your older friends. The bad news is that the restaurant is in the right. While the Human Rights Act states it is illegal to discriminate on the grounds of age, this does not apply at restaurants to those under the age of 16. Any eating establishment is permitted to refuse entry to those younger than 16, should it desire.

Of course, these things are discretionary. A sensible management would look at a group of girls around the age of 14 with an adult and consider they were unlikely to create havoc or annoy other customers. Even if they decided not to let the girls in, they should surely know better than to call them “children” to their faces… and to their proud mother. You can’t sue the restaurant but you can sure spread the word about their discourtesy and refuse to return. And if you’re thinking of taking your daughter out for a meal for her 15th birthday, be sure to check she’ll be allowed entry when you make the booking.

Do you have a consumer question for Kevin? Email [[email protected]](mailto: [email protected]), or post to Weekly Consumer, PO Box 90119, Victoria St West, Auckland 1142.

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