Rights of Persons with Disabilities to Reasonable Workplace Accommodation at Question in Supreme Court Case

Commission Granted Right to Appear as Amicus Curiae in Case

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’) has today been granted leave from the Supreme Court to exercise its amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) function in a significant case on the rights of persons with disabilities to have reasonable accommodations in the workplace.

The case of Nano Nagle School v Marie Daly is being heard by the Supreme Court as it is of significant public importance. The case centres on Marie Daly, a Special Needs Assistant (‘SNA’) who had worked for the Nano Nagle School for children with learning and/or physical disabilities, since 1998. In 2010 she suffered an accident and after a period of rehabilitation, in 2011 she sought to return to work.

Following a review of expert reports, the School Board concluded that Ms Daly did not have the capacity to undertake the full set of duties associated with a SNA, and nor would she in the future and so decided not to permit her to return to work.

Ms Daly made a complaint to the former Equality Tribunal (now subsumed within the Workplace Relations Commission) on the basis that the School had failed to provide appropriate measures to accommodate her, as a person with a disability, to return to work contrary to section 16 of the Employment Equality Act 1998 and the case has proceeded by appeal through the courts and will now be heard by the Supreme Court.

As well as being Ireland’s National Equality Body, with Ireland’s ratification this year of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the Commission will be the independent monitor of Ireland’s implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities.

Emily Logan Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

The Commission is exercising our amicus curiae function in this case in light of the significance of the human rights and equality issues involved. The outcome of this case has significant implications, and will affect other people with disabilities in employment or seeking employment and the obligations that employers owe to them in the provision of reasonable accommodation.

“We know that people with disabilities are facing discrimination in accessing employment, and so clarity on the reasonable accommodation they can expect from potential or current employers is vital.”

ENDS/

For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

bdawson@ihrec.ie

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

 

Editor’s Note

As the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is now formally involved in the proceedings, we are precluded from making any further comment as the matter is before the Supreme Court.

Where written submissions are made by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to the superior Courts in amicus curiae cases they will be made available on www.ihrec.ie after the case has been heard.

The amicus curiae function of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

The Commission’s functions under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 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.

Section 10 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act sets out the functions of the Commission and Section 10(2)(e) provides that the IHREC shall have a function:

“to apply to the High Court or the Supreme Court for liberty to appear before the High Court or the Supreme Court, as the case may be, as amicus curiae in proceedings before that Court that involve or are concerned with the human rights or equality rights of any person and to appear as such an amicus curiae on foot of such liberty being granted (which liberty each of the said courts is hereby empowered to grant in its absolute discretion).”

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) 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 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.

 

 

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