The Equality Tribunal is the independent state body set up to investigate or mediate complaints of discrimination. The Equality Tribunal deals with all complaints of discrimination in employment and access to goods and services which comes under equality legislation.
The Equality Authority is a statutory body set up to work towards the elimination of unlawful discrimination, to promote equality of opportunity and to provide information to the public on the equality legislation.
Discrimination occurs when you are treated less favourably than another person is, has been or would be treated because of your:
- Civil status
- Family status
- Sexual orientation
- Race (including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins) or
- Membership of the Traveller community.
The term victimization is used to describe unfair treatment of a worker by an employer because of some action the worker has taken.
The Equality Tribunal also deals with complaints of discrimination on the grounds of gender under the Pensions Act 1990 - 2009 in relation to occupational benefit or pensions schemes. It cannot deal with complaints about licensed premises (for example, pubs) and registered clubs (for example, some golf clubs are registered clubs). To pursue a complaint about a licensed premises or registered club you must take your case to the District Court.
What does the Equality Tribunal do?
It has have two main roles:
■ mediation, and
A case goes to mediation if neither side objects to it and if the Director of the Tribunal considers the case suitable.
What is mediation?
In mediation, a trained Mediation Officer helps both sides to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both. Agreements reached through mediation are confidential and their terms must be obeyed by both sides.
What is an investigation ?
An investigation is a formal examination of a complaint, carried out by an Equality Officer. The Equality Officer will consider written statements, known as submissions, from each side and will send each side a copy of the other side’s submission and any other relevant material. The Equality Officer will then hear the evidence, which will allow them to reach a decision on the complaint.
Can the Equality Tribunal give a person advice on their case ?
No, the Equality Tribunal cannot give advice to either side on the merits of a case. We must remain absolutely neutral and can only give information on how the system works.
How to make an application!
Complaints under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 - 2011 must be brought within 6 months of the last act of discrimination. You should make your complaint using the new single complaint form. The completed form should be returned to Workplace Relations Customer Services.
Complaints about discrimination in pensions must be brought not later than 6 months after leaving the job.
To make a complaint under the Equal Status Acts 2000 - 2011 you must first notify the person or organization you are making the complaint against within 2 months of the last act of discrimination. To do this you complete ES.1 form and send it to the person or organisation you are making the complaint against. The time limit for notification can be extended to 4 months by the Director of Equality Investigations. If you are not satisfied with the service provider's response, or if they have made no response within 1 month from the date you notified them, and you wish to pursue the complaint, you should use the complaint form ES.3. The completed ES.3 should be returned to the Equality Tribunal.
Complaints must be brought to the Equality Tribunal within 6 months of the last act of discrimination. The time limit can be extended to 12 months for 'reasonable cause'.
All Tribunal decisions can be appealed, to the Labour Court for employment and pensions cases and to the Circuit Court for equal status cases, within 42 days of the issue of the decision.
Must I notify the Respondent ?
Yes. To make a complaint of discrimination, a claimant must first write to the person or organisation against whom they are making the complaint, setting out the details of the complaint and their intention to seek a remedy under the Equal Status Acts. They must send this letter within 2 months of the alleged discrimination. The complaint is not valid unless this is done.
What are the Remedies available ?
If the Equality Officer finds that there was discrimination, they will make
an order. This can be for:
■ a monetary award,
■ equal pay or equal treatment, and/or
■ a specified course of action by a specified person (usually the
Are the Equality Tribunals decision legally binding ?
Yes. The Equality Tribunals decisions are legally binding in that both sides must obey them.
Will the Equality Tribunal or the Circuit Court Enforce the Equality Officers decision if so required ?
The Circuit Court.
What is the new Workplace Relations Service
On 6 July 2012 the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation published a policy document detailing his proposed legislative provisions for a new workplace relations service to be set up in 2013. A Workplace Relations Commission will bring together the existing services of the Labour Relations Commission, Rights Commissioner Service, Equality Tribunal, the National Employment Rights Authority and the first instance functions of the Employment Appeals Tribunal. The Labour Court will be the single appeal body for all workplace relations appeals, including those currently heard by the Employment Appeals Tribunal. A Workplace Relations Bill giving effect to these changes is to be enacted in 2013.
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Please be advised that the above-mentioned material is intended as an overview and as a broad out-line of the topic discussed. It should not be considered as complete and comprehensive legal advice, nor act as an appropriate substitute.
Due care has been taken in the publication of this article and we do not accept legal liability as a result of reliance on any material covered in the above article.