Equality laws in Ireland

Equality and discrimination are two sides of the same coin

Ireland’s equality laws protect individuals from certain kinds of discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment. They aim to promote:

  • Equal work opportunities, for example when applying for work, while in a job, going for a promotion or getting equal pay.
  • Equal treatment when accessing goods, services, facilities and accommodation, for example when using public services, looking for housing, getting the bus, going to school or college, or going to the pub.

The Employment Equality Acts and Equal Status Acts prohibit discrimination on specific grounds. Generally, discrimination occurs where one person is treated less favourably than another person in a comparable situation, because they differ under any of the following grounds: Age, Civil Status, Disability, Family Status, Gender, Housing Assistance Payment, Membership of the Traveller Community, Race, Religion, Sexual Orientation.

Claiming your rights is important

A key part of equality law is about ensuring individuals can claim their rights and receive compensation if they have been discriminated against. In Ireland, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) is the body responsible for deciding on discrimination claims brought by individuals in relation to both employment and access to services/goods.

There is no charge to bring a case at the WRC, but there are time limits (see below).

Gender claims have the option of going to the Circuit Court.

It is important to note that the law does not cover all differences of treatment, either at work or in everyday life, that you might experience. This means that the WRC may not be able to make a legal finding of discrimination in your case, if you have been treated less favourably for a reason other than one of the protected grounds.

However, there may be other ways for you to claim your rights. We encourage you to contact us or another organisation to explore your options.

Learn more about Ireland’s equality laws

Booklet on the Equal Status Acts

Booklet on the Employment Equality Acts