Direct discrimination

It is illegal under Irish Equality legislation


the eleventh hour discrimination350The Employment Equality Acts 1998 – 2015 prohibit discrimination in employment and related areas. The main areas covered by the Acts include recruitment and promotion, working conditions,equal pay, training or experience, dismissal,harassment including sexual harassment.





What is the definition of discrimination ?

Irish equality legislation defines discrimination as treating one individual in a less favourable way than another individual based on any of the listed 9 grounds.

What are the 9 grounds under which discrimination is banned ?

The following are the 9 prohibited grounds :

  • Gender. This covers man, woman or transsexual.

  • Civil status. This covers single,married, separated, divorced, widow or widower, civil partners, former civil partners.

  • Family status. This deals with the parent of a person under 18 years or the resident primary carer or parent of a person with a disability.

  • Sexual orientation. This incorporates gay, lesbian, bisexual, heterosexual.

  • Religion. Religious belief, background, outlook or none.

  • Age. Anyone under 16 is not covered.

  • Disability. This covers persons with physical, intellectual, learning, cognitive or emotional disabilities and a range of medical conditions.

  • Race. This includes, skin colour, nationality, ethnic origin, as well as race.

  • Membership of the Traveller community. This includes related matters.


How can I establish direct discrimination ?

The key element is less favourable treatment. Have you been treated less favourably than another is,would be or has been treated in a comparable situation, in relation to the listed 9 grounds ? If the answer is yes, then we need to look at how to prove it.

It is necessary therefore, to establish a comparator. This can be an actual person or a one who exists in theory. The comparator is one who receives, or is capable of receiving better treatment than you for a similar job. You must be able to prove that the variation in treatment is due to discrimination based on one of the 9 discriminatory grounds.

While this can seem a difficult thing to prove, you have to make a prima facie case. This means that you must produce evidence that, unless rebutted or disproved, would be sufficient to prove your case. This is not as high a requirement as “beyond reasonable doubt”. The evidence needs to be credible. “ Prima Facie” is derived from Latin and Middle English . It loosely translates as “on first view”.

The good thing about establishing a prima facie case is that the burden of proof shifts to the employer, who must now produce evidence of sufficient validity to contradict your case.

If you are unsure as to whether or not you have a prima facie case, please contact us for a FREE consultation. We have over thirty years experience in employment law in Ireland.



See article on Disability Discrimination Case here

For more on discrimination and equality see


How wide is the scope of Equality legislation ?

The prohibition of discrimination on the 9 listed grounds is wide in its scope.

It deals with every aspect of employment. It covers equal pay, conditions of employment, overtime,shift work,transfers, lay offs, redundancy,dismissal, disciplinary matters, training, work experience and others.

What action should I take ?

If you believe that you have been discriminated against at work, please contact us using the orange Yes! Tell Me More button below, and we will contact you at a time that suits. All of our consultations are strictly confidential. You can talk freely to us. Remember there are time limits so don’t delay, contact us today.





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