You may find the following definitions helpful in understanding Irish equality legislation.
When a person is treated less favourably than another person would be treated in a comparable situation, because of their connection to one of the protected grounds (outlined below). Discrimination is prohibited in Irish law, and several kinds of discrimination are covered:
When a person is treated less favourably, not directly, but as a secondary effect of a practice that places them at a disadvantage in relation to others, as a result of belonging to one of the protected grounds
Practice may not be considered to be indirectly discriminatory if it is justified by a legitimate aim that is achieved by appropriate means
When a person is treated less favourably because of their association with another person belonging to one of the protected grounds.
When a person is treated less favourably because they are believed to belong to one of the protected grounds
When a person is treated less favourably because they have made a complaint of discrimination or harassment.
You are entitled to be treated equally whatever your age.
You are entitled to be treated equally whether you are single, married, in a civil partnership, separated, divorced, widowed, etc.
You are entitled to be treated equally whether or not you have a disability.
The definition of "disability" in Irish law is very broad and can cover physical disability, sensory impairments, mental health conditions, and long-term health problems. A condition may be a disability if it substantially impairs your ability to participate in everyday activities and is not easily corrected (e.g. by wearing glasses).
You are entitled to be treated equally if you are pregnant, a parent, a guardian or a primary carer.
You are entitled to be treated equally if you are a woman, a man, a transgender person or an intersex person.
You are entitled to be treated equally if you are in receipt of a rent supplement, housing assistance, or any Social Welfare payment.
This ground relates to the provision of accommodation only.
You are entitled to be treated equally if you are a member of the Traveller Community.
You are entitled to be treated equally no matter what race, nationality, or ethnic background you belong to, or what colour your skin is.
You are entitled to be treated equally no matter what your religious beliefs are, or if you have no religious beliefs.
You are entitled to be treated equally if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual.
Harassment is any form of unwanted conduct related to any of the protected grounds that has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for the person. Sexual harassment is any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
In both cases, the unwanted conduct may include acts, requests, spoken words, gestures, or the production, display, or circulation of written words, pictures or other material. The emphasis is on the effect of the unwanted conduct on the recipient, not on the intention of the perpetrator.
The Equality Acts allow for preferential treatment or the taking of positive measures which are bona fide and intended to
- promote equality of opportunity
- cater to the special needs of persons who require extra facilities, arrangements, services, or assistance
Reasonable Accommodation / Appropriate Measures
Any service provider including educational institutions must do all that they reasonably can to accommodate the needs of a person with a disability. This involves providing extra support or facilities in circumstances where without these, it would be impossible or unduly difficult for the person with a disability to avail of the service provided.
Similarly, an employer is obliged to take appropriate measures to enable a person who has a disability to participate equally in the workplace, such as
- adaptation of premises or equipment
- change in working hours
- redistribution of tasks
- provision of training resources
An employer is not obliged to provide anything that the person might ordinarily provide for themselves, nor is an employer obliged to recruit or promote a person who is not fully capable of undertaking the duties attached to the position.
Reasonable accommodation / appropriate measures are not required if they would impose a "disproportionate burden" or cost more than a "nominal cost", both of which depend on circumstances such as the size and resources of the body involved.