Discrimination – Gender and Family Status Grounds

Generally speaking a person in work when they have been discriminated against will feel it and see it.

The Law on Equality in Ireland is governed by the Employment Equality which prohibits discrimination on a number of grounds.

In this post we are discussing the Gender and Family Status Grounds.

Scenario – say a female and mother is discriminated against in her place of work and/or her employer decides to dismiss her, and she is replaced by a male employee.

One legal avenue available to her to challenge the discrimination is by making a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission under the Employment Equality Acts.

Certain questions your solicitor will likely ask at a preliminary meeting are:  

  • Was the person dismissed ?.
  • Is the person an employee or independent contractor ?.
  • Is the employee covered by the discrimination provisions of the Act ?.
  • What was the persons family status ie is she a parent ?.
  • Was the principle of equal treatment applied to the employee ?.
  • Was she discriminated against ?.
  • Was her treatment in the workplace less favourable than that of an another individual not covered by the discriminatory ground ?.
  • When did the discrimination occur ?.

Burden of Proof in Equality Law Cases

The burden of proof in cases of this nature is initially on the complainant to give facts which have sufficient weight to enable a case officer hearing the case to presume there has been discrimination. The complainant must prove on the balance of probabilities that there was unlawful discrimination.

This means that if the complainant gets over this initial hurdle, the onus of proof and focus is then on the employer prove there was no discrimination whatsoever. This can be an onerous obligation for the employer.

Time limits for Applications to the WRC – Equality Act

Strict time limits are in place for submitting an employment law related complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission. A legal action must be commenced within 6 months beginning on the date of the contravention to which the complaint relates. Therefore, it is necessary to submit the Workplace Relations complaint form to the Workplace Relations Commission online or via post, and an applicant should ensure they have confirmation the claim has been received.

There is a very short window for legal action in employment law cases, and any person who wants to know their options, should obtain legal advice sooner rather than later, and they decide what they wish to do.

Disclaimer

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. Legal advice should be obtained from a solicitor prior to relying on anything in this article.

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.