Due to major reform of the State's employment rights/workplace relations institutions, all complaints lodged with the Equality Tribunal are received by:
Workplace Relations Customer Service,
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation,
Complaints of unlawful discrimination under the Equal Status Acts 2000-2011 may be made against a wide range of service providers in the public and private sectors. These can include facilities for transport, education, health services, entertainment, refreshment and banking and credit facilities.
The nine grounds on which discrimination is outlawed by the Equal Status Acts are as follows:
- Civil status
- Family status
- Sexual orientation
- Religious belief
- Race colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins
- Membership of the Traveller community
What is a Service Provider?
A service provider can be a business, an individual, or an organisation in the public or private sector, which provides goods, facilities, or services to the public generally.
How a complaint is made
Before a complaint of unlawful discrimination can be made, the service user must write to the service provider concerned. This notification must outline the nature of the complaint and indicate the intention to seek redress and to refer the matter to the Director of the Tribunal. This must normally be done within two months of the date of the incident.(Form ES1 can be used) The Director has power to extend time for a further two months for notifying, where she is satisfied that reasonable cause prevented notification in time.
The complaint itself must be referred to the Equality Tribunal within six months of the alleged act of discrimination (again this can be extended for a further six months where the Director is satisfied that reasonable cause prevented referral in time).
Complaints in relation to licensed premises
Complaints of alleged discrimination in relation to licensed premises are now dealt with by the District Court under the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 2003.
Requests for Information
Under the Equal Status Acts a person who feels that they have been discriminated against is entitled to ask for any information, other than confidential information relating to someone else, which they may need from the service provider, they feel has discriminated against them. Any such request must be made at the time of notifying the service provider.
Responding to a Notification
A form for responding to such a request (Form ES.2) is available from the Tribunal or the service provider may choose to reply in a different format. There is no legal obligation on a service provider to reply to a notification. However, it could harm their case if there is no reply, if false or misleading information is given or if the reply is unhelpful to the person deciding whether to make a formal complaint. This is because the Acts allow the Director to draw inferences from any such situation when dealing with the complaint.
All information copied to both sides
The complaint form and any other material papers relating to the complaint which are received by the Tribunal are copied to the service provider and in turn material papers from the service provider are copied by the Tribunal to the complainant.
Some further points of information
- It is the aim of the Equality Tribunal to be absolutely impartial in dealing with cases that come before it.
- Every effort is made to ensure that cases are dealt with in a timely and professional way that is fair to all concerned.
- Legal representation is not necessary but either side may choose to be legally represented or to be represented by a professional association or a representative body if they wish.
- The Tribunal cannot award costs to either side.
- Following a hearing of a complaint, the Equality Officer will issue a written Decision upholding or rejecting the complaint. This Decision is legally binding. If either side is unhappy with the outcome of an Equality Officer's Decision, they may lodge an appeal with the Circuit Court for a fresh hearing of the case.
- Where an Equality Officer, following the hearing of a complaint, finds in favour of the complainant, redress of up to €6,349.00 payable by the service provider can be awarded. The Equality Officer also has power to order a specified person to take a specific course of action.
- It is an offence to obstruct an Equality Officer.