Discrimination occurs when an employer treats two employees differently for one or more reasons.
Not all discrimination is unlawful. For example, it is lawful to treat two groups of employees differently on grounds of the academic record or the proximity of their home to their workplace, or because one employee has proved to be a harder worker than another, for example.
There are only nine grounds established in legislation where the employer may not treat an employee less favourably to another employee. These are the following:
- Gender (including pregnancy)
- Marital Status
- Family Status
- Sexual Orientation
- Membership of the Traveling Community.
Equality cases are very difficult. An employer will not be held liable if he can convince the Judge that he relied on any other criteria unrelated to the ground complained of in the proceedings.
In other words, if the discrimination is not obvious, and extreme, the case is not likely to be upheld.
The Workplace Relations Commission maintain a database of all of their decisions. It is noteworthy from this database that the vast majority of Equality Claims are dismissed. Perhaps the only exception to this is in relation to the gender ground in terms of pregnancy and sexual harassment.