Q: I heard from a friend who also owns a pub that a licensee has recently been fined for barring immigrant workers. Would this be discriminatory in some way or do I have the right to refuse entry to whomever I like?
A: As a licensee you do have the right to refuse entry to whomever you wish, however the reasons for any refusal must not be unlawful. For instance equality legislation makes it unlawful to refuse entry on the grounds of race, religion, sex or sexual orientation and disability amongst other things.
At the same time, however, every licensee has a duty to promote the licensing objectives and if allowing a customer to enter the premises would undermine those objectives then it would be lawful to refuse entry. If you have had to expel them previously from your premises or they are banned by Pubwatch for previous violent behaviour, then this could be a lawful refusal. It is when there is either outright discrimination or stereotyping of classes of people that discrimination occurs which is unlawful. You cannot bar someone simply on the basis that you think they are an immigrant. A good practice tip when contentious refusals are made is to note the specific reasons in a refusals log justifying refusal, for instance on the grounds of prevention of crime and disorder. Training your staff is also important.
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