As specified in S.7 of the Equal Status Act 2002(as amended), a school / university etc. cannot discriminate against a person regarding any admission to a school, or regarding the conditions of the admission of a student, or access nor participation, for example.
Burden of Proof
The burden of proof in cases of discrimination is firstly on the claimant to have facts of sufficient significance to be able to raise a presumption of discrimination. If the complainant gets over this initial hurdle, the burden of proof then shifts over to the party to whom the complaint is made against, to prove that no discrimination took place.
What is Discrimination
Discrimination occurs when one person is treated less favourably based on either their gender, marital status, family status, religious belief, sexual orientation, age, disability, race or that they are a member of the traveller community.
An example is where an educational establishment engages in discrimination based on the gender ground, in circumstances where one parent is treated more favourably that the other, such as the mother, in respect of the child’s education.
Say a father is a joint legal guardian, then Guardianship within the meaning of the Guardianship of Infants Acts gives a right to the father to make decisions in respect of the child. Guardianship rights include the ability to make important decisions such as the child’s education.
Principles of equality must be applied to both male and female legal guardians.
Complainants Notifications Obligations
Prior to a complainant taking a case for discrimination under the Equal Status Acts, they must within 2 months of the discriminatory conduct notify the educational establishment in writing, setting out the complaint, wait for the response, and if you are not satisfied with this, then make the complaint to the workplace relations commission.
Complaint Form link a person can avail of: https://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/publications_forms/form-es-1-equal-status-complaint-notification1.pdf
Legal Action Time Limit
There is a strict time limit for taking legal action for claims of discrimination or harassment under the Equal Status Act.
The legal time frame is only 6 months from the date of the discrimination to commence legal action, and a claim submitted after this time frame is out of time.
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 sought 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.