Legal to Ban Children from Your Business? - Free Enterprise
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Legal to Ban Children from Your Business?

As much as most people love children, most business owners would tend to agree that having kids in a store or restaurant may also be a liability. A restaurant in Pennsylvania has made headlines this week with its ban on children under the age of 6 - should your business do the same?

There are some drawbacks to banning kids. First and foremost, kids' parents are usually the bread and butter customer of most stores and restaurants. And, by preventing children from entering into the business, you might be reducing your business' chance of making sales from moms and dads.

But, what are some upsides? And, is it legal to have such a ban?

For the most part, the upsides are similar to the reasons why the restaurant in Pennsylvania, McDain's, decided to ban children. Noisy kids may break a nice restaurant's ambiance. Rambunctious children who don't listen to their parents may also end up bumping into customers in stores, and can end up being both destructive and disruptive.

So, if you decide to implement a children ban in your business, is it legal? It seems like it is, under federal law at least. Federal law generally prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation, including places that offer food, lodging, gasoline or entertainment.

These places need to make their businesses available without discriminating against race, color, religion or national origin.

Nowhere in that list is there a category for "kids."

Yet, on the other hand, businesses that do decide to ban kids will probably face public backlash, especially if the business is one in which parents enjoy taking their kids to, like a restaurant.

As usual for most business policies, in the end owners will have to balance competing interests between customers. A ban on children may be great for some, but don't expect all customers to be appreciative of this kind of policy.

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