Cadbury’s are looking for their new ‘Milk Tray Man’ as they look to revive their loved adverts that ran between 1968 and 2003, featuring a man, dressed in black, on a mission to deliver a box of Milk Tray to a woman – with the tag line “all because the woman loves Milk Tray.”
Does the Milk Tray Man need to be a man in this day, where we often emphasise the importance of gender equality? Is such a daring delivery needed “all because the woman loves Milk Tray?” What about a man who loves Milk Tray?
Is it discriminatory to be looking for a “Milk Tray Man”?
The Equality Act prevents discrimination on the grounds of sex, so on the face of it if a woman whose job application was rejected for the role of “Milk Tray Man” on the basis that she was not a man, this could be an act of direct discrimination i.e. less favourable treatment because of her sex when compared to a man in the same circumstances. Could the requirement for a “Milk Tray Man” also be a provision that disproportionately disadvantages women? This could give rise to a claim of indirect discrimination.
However, it is not as simple as that. Where an employer has a genuine occupational requirement for a person with a particular protected characteristic i.e. a man for a male role in a TV advert, then any act of potentially discriminatory treatment towards women can be justified. The employer has to show there is an occupational requirement, they have a sound business reason for applying that requirement and they have acted proportionately in applying that requirement.
In any case, in these circumstances, Cadburys have said that what they are looking for “from today’s Milk Tray Man is someone that is also thoughtful and goes the extra mile to put a smile on our face…with an application process that’s open to all, we’re confident we’ll find a modern-day hero and new star of our ads.”
If that approach is applied to other TV and film roles, could we soon be seeing a female 007 or Doctor Who?
If you feel you have been treated unfavourably on the grounds of your sex and require assistance, get in touch with our employment and discrimination team on 01142496666.
Employment and Discrimination Solicitor