Equal Status Act – One Year in Operation

The Equality Authority marked the first anniversary of the Equal Status Act by releasing data on its operation over this first year. The Equal Status Act addresses discrimination in the provision of goods, services, facilities, accommodation and education and the operation of registered clubs. It covers the nine grounds of gender, marital status, family status, age, disability, sexual orientation, race, religion and membership of the Traveller community.

At the end of the first year:-

  • The Equality Authority has a large Equal Status case load of 506 cases. These cases cover all nine grounds of the legislation.
  • The Equal Status case load is two thirds of the Equality Authority overall case load with the Employment Equality Act accounting for the other third. This is the complete inverse to what was predicted.
  • The key issues arising in the case load are
  1. Access and equal treatment in relation to insurance – motor, medical and travel insurance. This is an age ground issue in particular but also includes the race, Traveller, disability and gender grounds.
  2. Access to pubs and night clubs which is a Traveller ground issue in particular but which also includes the gender, family status, sexual orientation, age, disability and race grounds.
  3. Access to accommodation which includes the gender, family status, sexual orientation, race and Traveller grounds.
  4. Golf club membership arrangements which is largely a gender issue.
  5. Equal treatment in education provision which includes the disability, race, Traveller and age grounds.
  6. Issues of access to transport for people with disabilities.

Commenting on this data, Niall Crowley, Chief Executive Officer of the Equality Authority stated the “the scale of the case load under the Equal Status Act is a measure of the fact that service providers have not yet geared up to their new obligations under the legislation. Few service providers have equal status policies, and even fewer provide training to their staff on equal status issues.”

He highlighted ” the emergence of equal status issues in key areas of social provision – education, accommodation and transport. Discrimination in these areas has a major and long term impact on the life chances of those involved. Urgent action is required to meet the challenge posed by the casework developing in these areas”.

He made particular reference to ” the response of the publicans to their obligations under the legislation. The wide range of grounds experiencing discrimination in accessing pubs is evidence of significant failure in this regard. For this reason we have prioritised the preparation of a code of practice for pubs, hotels and restaurants to assist publicans in particular to develop the necessary practices and procedures to ensure discrimination does not happen”.