Eamon Timmins CEO, Age Action says “It is illegal under the
Employment Equality Act to discriminate against somebody based on
their age, and it is very encouraging that older workers are now
using that legal protection,” Mr Timmins said.
“However, we now need a sea change in attitudes among some
The EA responded to 10,993 queries under five
different pieces of legislation –
- 3,047 queries in relation to the Employment Equality Acts
- 1,559 queries in relation to the Equal Status Acts
- 4,257 queries in relation to the Maternity Protection Acts
- 1,996 queries under the Parental Leave Acts
- 134 queries under the Adoptive Leave Acts
There were 737 case files under three pieces of legislation with 360
case files under the Employment Equality Acts, 328 case files under the
Equal Status Acts and 49 case files under the Intoxicating Liquor Act.
The age ground was the highest area of case files under
the Employment Equality Acts for the first time (87 case files
out of 360-24%). The disability ground was the highest area of
case files under the three acts together (177 case files out of
Under the Equal Status Acts there was a substantial number of
case files involving allegations of discrimination against the public
sector-government departments, state agencies, local
authorities, health agencies and schools (225 case files out of
The Traveller ground was the second highest area of case files
under the Equal Status Acts (63 out of 328 casefiles-19%). These
predominantly relate to allegations of discrimination in relation
to educational establishments and accommodation provision.
The race ground (68 case files) and the gender ground (65
case files) continue to be a significant focus in the case files
under the Employment Equality Acts. The Traveller and the disability
grounds are the highest areas under the Intoxicating
Niall Crowley, CEO Equality Authority highlighted "the age ground
predominantly involves allegations of discrimination by older
workers. Age limits in the workplace are the focus for many
of these allegations including fixed retirement ages. It is clear from
the case files that there are significant numbers of older people who
do not want to be forced to retire."
He pointed to "the significant challenges that are evident in the
high level of case files on the disability ground. These
allegations predominantly relate to a failure by employers and service
providers to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities.
It is clear from the case files that this accommodation requires early
consultation with an assessment of need of the individual employee or
customer with disabilities.
This issue is evident across a wide range of sectors including schools,
transport providers, government departments and housing providers."
He added that "the significant presence of the public sector
as a focus for allegations of discrimination reinforces our
recommendation that the equality legislation should be developed to include
a positive duty on the public sector to have regard to
equality in carrying out its functions".
A number of casework outcomes of strategic importance were achieved
during the year including –
A local authority was ordered to pay the maximum compensation
under the Equal Status Acts for discrimination on the disability
ground and to construct an extension in a local authority house
suitable to the needs of a child with autism or to re-house the family
in alternative suitable accommodation.
The Health Service Executive was ordered to pay the maximum
compensation under the Equal Status Acts for discrimination on
the Traveller community ground for obliging the claimant to attend a
centralised unit in Dublin for payment of supplementary welfare
allowance (SWA) and was ordered to arrange for SWA payments to
Travellers at all outlets at which payment is made to non-Travellers.
A complaint of discrimination by a domestic worker under
the Employment Equality Acts was settled on the basis of a substantial
A complaint under the Equal Status Acts was settled when the State
Examinations Commission re-issued a Leaving Certificate to reflect
the presenting identity of a Transsexual person.
Niall Crowley, CEO of the Equality Authority, pointed to the "development
of a new focus on the business case for equality during 2007. Ground
breaking research quantified, for the first time in an Irish
context, the positive relationship between equality and
diversity strategies in companies and increased productivity,
increased motivation and decreased employee turnovers.
This research is particularly important as we experience economic
turbulence - equality and diversity strategies are not an optional
extra for the good times, they are key to business survival in more
For more information visit the Equality Authority website. Other useful
websites include Age
Action Ireland and the Age
& Opportunity website which promotes greater participation by
older people in society.
Visit the Employment
Resource Bureau for information on human resource management for
your community organisation.