Types of Discrimination

The Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015, the Pensions Act 1990 and the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2007, make provision for equality in relation to pay, conditions of employment, recruitment, opportunities for promotion and training, etc.


The Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 make provision for the promotion of equality and deals with issues of discrimination in the workplace.  For the purposes of the Employment Equality Acts, discrimination occurs where one-person is/has been or would be treated less favourably than another on any of the following grounds.



  • Gender – Whether male or female


  • Marital Status - Marital status is defined as persons who are single, married, separated, divorced and widowed.


  • Family Status – Includes those who have/have not a family status. It also includes individuals who are defined as having a responsibility i.e.- of someone who has not reached the age of 18 years or a carer in relation to a person of or over that age with a disability needing frequent care and support of that person.


  • Sexual Orientation – Whether same or of different orientation


  • Religious Beliefs – Whether of same, different or none. Includes religious background or outlook.


  • Age – This applies to all ages above the maximum age at which a person is statutorily obliged to attend school. There are a number of exceptions however, including;


  • Whereby it can be shown/proven that significant increase in costs would result if the discrimination where not permitted in those circumstances
  • It is not discrimination to set different ages for the retirement (voluntarily or compulsorily) of employees
  • A maximum age can be established for recruitment which takes into account that any cost or period of time involved in training the recruited individual to a standard at which the recruit will be effective in that job. It may also demonstrate that there is a need for there to be a reasonable amount of time prior to retirement age for the recruit to be effective in that job.


  • Disability – Includes total or partial absence of bodily or mental function, including absences of a part of a person’s body. The presence in the body of organisms causing, or likely to cause, chronic disease or illness.  The malfunction which results in learning difficulty.  Or a condition, illness or disease, which affects a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgement or which results in disturbed behaviour.

It also includes disability which exists at present, or which previously existed but no longer exists or may in the future.


Note:  a person who has a disability will be seen as fully competent to undertake any duties, if with the assistance of special treatment or facilities they can undertake the task.  An employer must do all that is reasonable to accommodate the needs of a disabled person, through the provision of special treatment/facilities.


However a refusal or failure to provide for special treatment or facilities will not be reasonable if it would give rise to a cost other than nominal cost to the employer.

The Act also provides that discrimination based on disability will not be seen as unlawful where it is shown and proven that significantly increased costs would result if the discrimination were not permitted in such circumstances.


  • Race - Includes individuals of different race, colour, nationality or ethnic or national origins.


  • Membership of the Traveller Community - It is unlawful to discriminate against those who are or are not a member of the travelling community.