Discrimination in the workplace – Ireland
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights and Equality institution. They are an independent public body that accounts directly to the Oireachtas.
Their purpose is to promote and protect human rights and equality in Ireland and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding across Irish society.
What is discrimination in the workplace?
You are entitled to be treated equally in relation to work and jobs:
- If you are a woman, a man, a transgender person or an intersex person (the gender ground)
- Whether or not you are single, married, separated, divorced, widowed or in a civil partnership (the civil status ground)
- If you are the parent or person responsible for a child under 18, or if you are the main carer or parent of a person with a disability who needs ongoing care (the family status ground)
- Whether or not you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual (the sexual orientation ground)
- No matter what your religious beliefs are, or if you have no religious beliefs (the religion ground)
- Whatever your age, so long as you are over the legal school-leaving age (the age ground)
- No matter what race you belong to, or what colour your skin is, or your nationality or ethnic background (the race ground)
- If you are a member of the Traveller community (the Traveller community ground)
- If you have a disability (the disability ground).
Discrimination in the workplace can happen when your employer, workmate, or a company you are applying to, treat you less favourably than another person, because of who you are.
The law which deals with discrimination in the workplace is the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 (EEA). The EEA aim to ensure that people have equal opportunities in relation to skills, training, jobs and promotion.
The EEA explain the different kinds of discrimination in relation to the workplace which are against the law. The EEA outlaw certain kinds of discrimination under nine specific grounds. This means that the EEA do not cover every form of discrimination.
The EEA apply to many kinds of people and organisations, including for example:
- full-time, part-time and temporary workers
- people working for the public sector or, private companies
- organisations which provide training for job skills (for example, vocational training)
- employment agencies
- trade unions
- professional and trade bodies
- self-employed contractors, partners in partnerships and office-holders in State organisations and local authorities.
Volunteers are not covered by the EEA.
The EEA cover many aspects of work and jobs, including:
- job advertisements
- equal pay
- work experience
- contracts, terms and conditions
- promotion and re-grading
- losing your job (dismissal)
- collective agreements (agreements between an employer and a trade union about pay or conditions of employment).
Different kinds of discrimination in the workplace
The law which deals with discrimination in the workplace is the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 (EEA). The EEA aim to ensure people have equal opportunities in relation to skills, training, jobs and promotion.
The EEA explain the different kinds of discrimination in relation to the workplace which are against the law. Other forms of discrimination are not against the law.
Direct discrimination is when someone is treated less well than other people on purpose, because of who they are. It is also direct discrimination if a manager tells a worker to treat another worker less well than other people.
Indirect discrimination is when someone is treated less well than other people because there are requirements which they would find harder than others to fulfil.
Example A job ad says that people must be more than a certain height in order to apply. This may put women, and people from some ethnic backgrounds, at a disadvantage. The employer may not mean to discriminate, but the effect of the advertisement is to restrict who can apply. This is indirect discrimination, unless the employer can show that the requirement is essential, appropriate and necessary.
In this case, the employer would have to show why it is essential for the prospective employee to be taller than the height mentioned in the advertisement.
Discrimination by association is when someone is treated less well than other people because of who they know or are connected to.
Example A person is harassed at work (for example, called names and made the butt of practical jokes) because a member of their family is gay.
Discrimination by imputation is when someone is treated less well than other people because they are labelled as being in one of the groups covered by the nine discriminatory grounds.
Example An employer will not let an employee handle money because their supervisor thinks that they are a member of the Traveller community.
The EEA also bans harassment (Unwanted, hostile behaviour because of who you are) and sexual harassment (unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature). Victimisation, which is when an employer dismisses someone or treats them badly because they have made a complaint related to equality law is also illegal.
Have any of these kinds of discrimination happened to you?
- Check if your situation is covered by the law.
- Find out what to do if you are being discriminated against now, or have been discriminated against in the past.
- Find out what we can do to help
Please see https://www.ihrec.ie for more information.