An employee or employees cannot be directly or indirectly discriminated against (treated less favourably) in their employment.
Direct discrimination refers to the less favourable treatment of someone because of their background or certain personal characteristics. For instance, a job advertisement that states that the Irish need not apply is directly discriminatory.
Indirect discrimination involves a situation or requirement unreasonably applies to everyone but has the effect of disadvantaging some people because of a personal characteristic.
For example, a policy that states that employees must not bring their children into the workplace during break times has the outcome of discriminating against breastfeeding mothers.
It is against the law to discriminate against someone in their employment because of the person’s:
- Disability, or
- Race, including colour, national or ethnic origin or immigrant status
- Sex, pregnancy, marital or relationship status, family responsibilities or breastfeeding
- Sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.
Employers have a legal responsibility to take all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination on these grounds. Employers can also be vicariously liable for the discriminatory acts of their employees.