Different kinds of discrimination in the workplace

The law which deals with discrimination in the workplace is the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 (EEA). The EEA aim to ensure people have equal opportunities in relation to skills, training, jobs and promotion.

The EEA explain the different kinds of discrimination in relation to the workplace which are against the law. Other forms of discrimination are not against the law.

Direct discrimination is when someone is treated less well than other people on purpose, because of who they are.  It is also direct discrimination if a manager tells a worker to treat another worker less well than other people.

Indirect discrimination is when someone is treated less well than other people because there are requirements which they would find harder than others to fulfil.

Example A job ad says that people must be more than a certain height in order to apply. This may put women, and people from some ethnic backgrounds, at a disadvantage. The employer may not mean to discriminate, but the effect of the advertisement is to restrict who can apply. This is indirect discrimination, unless the employer can show that the requirement is essential, appropriate and necessary.

In this case, the employer would have to show why it is essential for the prospective employee to be taller than the height mentioned in the advertisement.

Discrimination by association is when someone is treated less well than other people because of who they know or are connected to.

Example A person is harassed at work (for example, called names and made the butt of practical jokes) because a member of their family is gay.

Discrimination by imputation is when someone is treated less well than other people because they are labelled as being in one of the groups covered by the nine discriminatory grounds.

Example An employer will not let an employee handle money because their supervisor thinks that they are a member of the Traveller community.

The EEA also bans harassment (Unwanted, hostile behaviour because of who you are) and sexual harassment (unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature). Victimisation, which is when an employer dismisses someone or treats them badly because they have made a complaint related to equality law is also illegal.

Have any of these kinds of discrimination happened to you?