Explanation of Terms - IHREC - Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

Explanation of Terms

The Provision of Goods and Services

The provision of goods and services applies to anyone who:

  • Buy and sell a wide variety of goods,
  • Uses or provide a wide range of services,
  • Obtains or disposes of accommodation,
  • Attends or are in charge of educational establishments.

There are separate provisions on registered clubs. The Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003 contains provisions in relation to discrimination by licensed premises.

What is Discrimination?

Discrimination is defined as the treatment of a person in a less favourable way than another person is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation on any of the nine grounds which exists, existed, may exist in the future or is imputed to the person concerned. There are different types of discrimination covered including indirect discrimination, discrimination by imputation and by association.

Discriminatory Advertising

Discriminatory advertising is prohibited. It is prohibited to publish, display or cause to be published or displayed, an advertisement which indicates an intention to discriminate, harass or sexually harass or might reasonably be understood as indicating such an intention.

What is Sexual Harassment and Harassment?

Sexual harassment and harassment in the provision of goods and services, accommodation and educational establishment is prohibited. A person (the ‘harasser’) shall not harass or sexually harass another person (the ‘victim’), where the victim uses or seeks to use goods or services provided by the harasser, the victim obtains or proposes to obtain accommodation or related services from the harasser, or the victim is a student at or has applied for admission to or seeks to avail of any services offered by an educational establishment at which the harasser is in a position of authority.

Harassment is any form of unwanted conduct related to any of the discriminatory grounds. Sexual harassment is any form of unwanted conduct of a sexual nature. In both cases it is conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person. A person who is responsible for a place that is an educational establishment or where goods, facilities, or services are offered to the public or a person who provides accommodation must ensure that any person who has a right to be there is not sexually harassed or harassed. The ‘responsible person’ will be liable for the sexual harassment or harassment unless they took reasonably practicable steps to prevent it.

What is Victimisation?

Victimisation is prohibited. Victimisation occurs where adverse treatment by a provider of goods and services, of accommodation or by an educational establishment is made as a reaction to a complaint of discrimination being made under the Equal Status Acts, to a person being a witness in any proceedings under the Acts or to a person having opposed by lawful means an action which is unlawful under the Acts.

Vicarious Liability

Employers are liable for discriminatory acts of an employee in the course of his or her employment unless they can prove that they took reasonably practicable steps to prevent the discrimination. It is therefore vital that an employer have comprehensive anti-discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment policies in place and that these are properly applied.

Reasonable Accommodation

A person selling goods or providing services, a person selling or letting accommodation, educational institutions and clubs must do all that is reasonable to accommodate the needs of a person with a disability unless this costs more than what is called a nominal cost. This involves providing special treatment or facilities where without these it would be impossible or unduly difficult to avail of the goods, services, accommodation etc.

Positive Action

The Acts allow preferential treatment or positive action intended to promote equality of opportunity for disadvantaged persons or to cater for the special needs of persons or a category of person who because of their circumstances may require facilities, arrangements, services or assistance. The prohibition on discrimination is subject to a number of general and specific exemptions.

Please note that these factsheets are for information only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such.