Age cases in employment and disability cases in equal status continue to dominate equality concerns – Report 2008

The Equality Authority Annual Report for 2008 is being formally launched today (Thursday 24th September), in the Equality Authority by John Moloney T.D., Minister of State with special responsibility for Equality, Disability and Mental Health.

Commenting on the report the Chairperson of the Authority, Angela Kerins stated:
“This report highlights the important work undertaken by the Authority in 2008. Our core mandate is to inform, to educate and to offer redress. Together with our partners and stakeholders, important advances have been made in promoting equality in education, research, equal status reviews and tackling homophobic bullying”.

“Strong performance in the area of casework and information provision is an important achievement in challenging times, and the Authority is committed to maintaining this momentum of public awareness and quality information provision. The report also clearly demonstrates the effective and efficient use of our resources” said Angela Kerins,

“Advances were also made on issues such as the health needs of transsexual people and in recognising the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender sexual identity in health services and also Black and ethnic minority initiatives. Looking at the Report, it is notable that, for the second year running, the age ground was the largest casework category under the Employment Equality Acts, and disability, traveller community and age grounds formed the majority of Equal Status casefiles* 2008”, stated Renee Dempsey, Chief Executive.

“It is essential to note that partnership with other State and community organisations
has been a most important contributor to the achievement of our goals. The Board of
the Equality Authority is particularly grateful for this co-operation and looks forward
to continuing to develop such productive partnerships in the years ahead. This spirit of
partnership, of “can-do” and of sharing of innovation forms a central tenet of our new
Strategic Plan for 2009-2011. This Annual report highlights the preparatory work undertaken by the Authority, in planning for continued effective delivery of the remit of the Authority into 2009 and beyond, to inform and educate, and to support those who are exposed to discrimination. In these challenging times the Authority believes that equality agenda is more important than ever’ added Angela Kerins.

* Please note: If a query qualifies under our selection criteria, then the Equality Authority may open a ‘casefile’. A ‘casefile’ does not refer to an actual case that will definitely end up in court; it is the term currently used to cover legal work on all these queries. This casefile may take the form of a letter of enquiry, a questionnaire, a referral from the Public Information Centre, or as it grows, it may include advice, a resolution strategy, and a settlement, a formal case before the Equality Tribunal or higher courts, or an appeal to the Labour Court or higher courts if appropriate.

 

Key Equality Authority Results in 2008:

Information Statistics:

  • The Public Information Centre dealt with 10,433 queries on equality and family leave legislation as part of its information function. There were 2,819 queries under the Employment Equality Acts. 1,821 queries were recorded under the Equal Status Acts – a 5% reduction on 2007. The balance between equality enquiries and queries on Family Leave legislation showed an improvement in the balance towards equality from 58/42% in 2007 to 55/45% in 2008. Family Leave generated over 4,117 queries under the Maternity Protection Acts, 1,589 queries on the Parental Leave Acts and 97 queries on the Adoptive Leave Acts.
  • Disability was the highest area of enquiry under the Employment Equality Acts, with gender as the next highest area of enquiry. The disability ground was the highest area of enquiry under the Equal Status Acts and age was the second highest.
  • Over 452,248 visits were made to the home page of the Equality Authority website during 2008.

Casefiles*:

  • In 2008, there were 736 casefiles dealt with by the Equality Authority with 374 under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2008, and 301 under the Equal Status Acts 2000-2008. There were 61 casefiles under the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003.
  • ver 268 of all casefiles were closed by the year end.
  • f the 736 casefiles, 234 were new files which were opened with authorisation to provide preliminary advice and assistance.
  • The age ground was the largest category of employment casefiles with 98 out of a total of 374 under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2008 during 2008. The age ground was also the largest category in 2007.
  • Race was the second highest category at 70, followed by the gender ground at 59 and the disability ground at 59.
  • Working conditions constituted the largest area of complaint at 113, thirty eight of these 113 casefiles were on the ground of age, followed by the disability ground at 21.
  • Access to employment is the second highest area of complaint at 93. Race has the highest number at 26, followed by age at 23, disability at 16 and multiple grounds 14.
  • Dismissal is the third largest category of complaint at 44 with harassment the fourth largest category at 26.
  • As in previous years, the disability ground was the highest area of complaint under the Equal Status Acts and accounted for the largest numbers of casefiles at 118.
  • The second highest ground was the Traveller community at 40 and the age ground was the third highest at 37 casefiles.
  • Within the disability ground, the provision of education in primary, secondary and third level institutions for people with disabilities recorded 26 complaints, with a further 21 concerning the provision of services by health agencies and 15 casefiles relating to Government Departments.
  • Of the total number of casefiles under the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2008, 56 concerned the provision of education in primary, secondary and third level institutions and 45 complaints concerned the provision of services by health agencies. 36 were complaints relating to Government Departments. Overall casefiles relating to Government Departments, health agencies, local authorities, state agencies, schools and third level institutions accounted for 184 out of the 301.

The Equality Authority offers many forms of redress and remedy. These include a range of settlement options and legal investigations before the Equality tribunal and higher courts.

Some of the settlements and decisions in 2008 included:

  • An Equality Officer found in favour of a complainant in a decision under the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2008 on the age ground when a bank stated that its bank policy not to grant loans to anyone over 65 was deemed to be discriminatory.
  • On the family status ground, a cinema was ordered by an equality officer to review its admissions policy and to discontinue refusing admission to children under the age of two to its premises with immediate effect. The service provider was to provide comprehensive training for all members of staff.
  • A successful settlement was reached for a complainant and her son aged fourteen years against a special school and the Department of Education and Science in 2008. The complainant claimed that her son was being discriminated against on the ground of his disability as the respondents were failing to provide him with an education through Irish Sign Language (ISL). The settlement terms included the Department of Education and Science agreeing to invite tenders for the provision of a post graduate pathway in ISL for the delivery of a programme of continuing professional development. This is designed to provide teachers with the skills necessary for the design, implementation and evaluation of learning and teaching programmes for students learning through the medium of ISL.
  • A city council was ordered to provide a complainant who has a severe phobic disorder with a two bedroom apartment on a ground floor which was suitable to her disability.
  • A company was ordered to pay a substantial compensation to a complainant on the ground of pregnancy and victimisation.
  • An equality officer found that a complainant was discriminated against by the Office of the Revenue Commissioners on grounds of age when his employers failed to appoint him to an acting position of Assistant Principal Officer in April 2003.
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