Equal Status Acts

The Equal Status Acts 2000-2015 (‘the Acts’) prohibit discrimination in the provision of goods and services, accommodation and education. They cover the nine grounds of gender, marital status, family status, age disability, sexual orientation, race, religion, and membership of the Traveller. In addition, the Acts prohibit discrimination in the provision of accommodation services against people who are in receipt of rent supplement, housing assistance, or social welfare payments.

Discrimination

The Acts prohibit discrimination subject to some exemptions, in access to and use of goods and service, including indirect discrimination and discrimination by association, sexual harassment and harassment, and victimisation. The Acts allow positive action to promote equality for disadvantaged persons or to cater for the special needs of persons.

Discriminatory advertising is also 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.

Reasonable Accommodation

In addition the Acts require those selling goods or providing services to provide reasonable accommodation or special treatment or facilities where without these it would be impossible or unduly difficult for a person with disabilities to avail of the goods and services, unless this would cost more than a nominal cost. What amounts to a nominal cost will depend on the circumstances such as the size and resources of the body involved.

Services provided by the State (such as the Health Service Executive, local authorities, and so on) are covered but there are some exemptions.

The main exemption is that anything required to be done by another Irish law or EU law cannot be regarded as discrimination under the Equal Status Acts.

For example, it is not discrimination to refuse a social welfare payment to a person if that person is excluded from entitlement to the payment or benefit under social welfare law. There are also specific exemptions on the nationality ground in relation to the treatment by public authorities of certain foreign nationals.

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