The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’) has appeared before the Court of Appeal in proceedings concerning the relationship between claims of discrimination and claims of personal injuries arising from the workplace.
The Commission was granted liberty to appear as amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) in Culkin v Sligo County Council in January 2016.
In these proceedings the plaintiff, a former Local Authority employee is seeking damages for personal injuries arising from alleged bullying in the workplace.
The Local Authority has sought to have these personal injuries proceedings struck out on the grounds that the plaintiff’s complaint of discrimination as against his former employer has already been investigated by the Equality Tribunal (now subsumed into the Workplace Relations Commission).
The defendant argues that the plaintiff is precluded by section 101(2) of the Employment Equality Act 1998 (as amended) from recovering damages at common law in circumstances where his complaint of discrimination has already been investigated.
The defendant was successful in the High Court, which held that the personal injuries proceedings should be dismissed on the basis that they represented a duplication of the plaintiff’s equality claim against the defendant County Council.
In its submissions as amicus curiae, the Commission has sought to assist the Court of Appeal in interpreting the relevant provisions of the Employment Equality Acts. In particular, the Commission has argued that the relevant provisions must be interpreted in light of EU law, including Directive 2000/78/EC and the principles of equivalence and effectiveness.
Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, stated:
“The Commission, as Ireland’s national equality body, has an important role to play in ensuring that the protections afforded by EU anti-discrimination law are effective.
“These proceedings provide a welcome opportunity for the Court of Appeal to clarify the relationship between complaints of discrimination and other claims that may arise from the workplace.”
The Court of Appeal has reserved judgment.
For further information, please contact:
Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,
01 8589601 / 087 0697095
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The Commission’s written submissions are available at the following link: https://www.ihrec.ie/documents/culkin-v-sligo-county-council-march-2017/
Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission was set up on 1 November 2014 as an independent public body to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Act 2014 sets out the functions of the Commission, which are exercised with a view to encouraging and supporting the development of a society in which:
- there is respect for, and protection of, everyone’s human rights;
- there is respect for the dignity and worth of each person;
- a person’s ability to achieve their potential is not limited by prejudice, discrimination, or neglect;
- everyone has a fair and equal opportunity to take part in the economic, political, social or cultural life of the State; and
- people respect each other, respect equality and human rights, and understand the value of diversity within society
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.
The Commission’s functions also include that of applying for liberty to appear as an amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) before the superior courts in proceedings that involve, or are concerned with, the human rights or equality rights of any person.