Equality in the Workplace
Ending the outdated patterns of inequality in the workplace
27% of LGBT respondents reported being called hurtful names by work colleagues, 15% were verbally threatened and 7% were physically threatened. One in ten people have been absent from work as a result. (Irish Survey)SOURCE: Mayock et al, 2009 by GLEN
Equality in the workplace is a key priority for the approximately 130,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people at work in Ireland. There are legal protections in force which protects LGBT employees including the Unfair Dismissals Act, the Employment Equality Acts and the Civil Partnership Act.There has been huge social and legislative progress for LGBT people in Ireland over the last 20 years. Even though progress has been slower for transgender employees, European Court judgments have expanded the prohibition on the gender ground in the Employment Equality Act to also include transsexual people.
More and more organisations in Ireland are taking steps forward to adapt to the fairly recent International Human Rights Laws, setting out the principles by which a healthy and harmonious work environment is attainable, thus, bringing higher rates of integration, performance and productivity.
Gender equality is a win-win, it can be harmoniously embraced with a spirit of dialogue. The more gender equal companies are the better for its workers. Read our article on Gender Discrimination here.
At Coleman Legal Partners, we embrace all kinds of being and living, and therefore, we would be obliged to support anyone who is enduring resentment from a colleague, a manager or even a customer at your workplace.
We urge all employers to adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards violence and discrimination, and to enforce procedures that protects employees appropriately, in compliance with the inherent right to the enjoyment of Human Dignity.
The Employment Equality Act 1998
The employment equality act 1998 expressly prohibits discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of sexual orientation (see protections under the employments act here), and as per the second principle of the Yogyakarta principle:
“Everyone is entitled to enjoy all human rights without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Everyone is entitled to equality before the law and the equal protection of the law. “
It is often disregarded such action of abuse in the workplace due to the many varied factors that one can hold onto and suppress oneself from taking action, for the likes of, financial distress or being too fond of your current job.
What types of abuse can happen in the workplace in relation to equality/discrimination of workers?
We outline below some scenarios where abuse may present itself:
- Verbal Abuse
- Being ‘left out’ of work events
- Physical Abuse
However, the existence of statutory protection in and of itself will not eliminate discrimination and inequality in the workplace. A look at the statistics from the UK and Ireland is illustrative of ongoing problems:
7.9% of those at work report that they have experienced bullying within the past 6 months – an equivalent of 159000 individuals.
The sectors with the highest rates of bullying are education, public administration, health and social work and transport and communications, with between 12% and 14% incidence rates. Generally, the rate in the public sector is higher than in the private sector.
One in eight (13%) lesbian, gay and bi employees would not feel confident reporting homophobic bullying in their workplace.
A quarter (26%) of lesbian, gay and bi workers are not at all open to colleagues about their sexual orientation.
The law which deals with discrimination in relation to goods and services is the Equal Status Acts 2000-2015 (ESA). The ESA prohibits discrimination on nine specific grounds.
You are entitled to be treated equally in relation to the provision of goods and services:
- If you are a woman, a man, or a transgender person (the gender ground)
- Whether or not you are single, married, separated, divorced, widowed or in a civil partnership (the civil status ground)
- If you are:
- the parent or person responsible for a child under 18
- if you are the main carer or parent of a person with a disability who needs ongoing care (the family status ground)
- Whether or not you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual (the sexual orientation ground)
- No matter what your religious beliefs are, or if you have no religious beliefs (the religion ground)
- Whatever your age, so long as you are over 18, or under 18 if you have a driver’s licence and are looking for car insurance (the age ground)
- No matter what race you belong to, or what colour your skin is, or your nationality or ethnic background (the race ground)
- If you are a member of the Traveller community (the Traveller community ground)
- If you have a disability (the disability ground)
In addition, discrimination in the provision of accommodation and related services and amenities is unlawful on the grounds that you receive rent supplement, housing assistance, or any payment under the Social Welfare Acts. (The housing assistance ground).
The Employment Equality Directive (2000/78/EC) has banned employment discrimination based on sexual orientation in the European Union. The aim of the directive is to ensure that sexual minorities enjoy equal treatment in the workplace. Both direct discrimination (differential treatment based on specific characteristics) and indirect discrimination (any provision, criterion or practice which puts the included categories at a disadvantage) was covered by the directive – and harassment was also deemed to constitute discrimination. All 28 EU Member States have already transposed this directive. It is important to mention that the directive covers gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals, but not transgender and intersex persons.
The Employment and Social Security Directive (2006/54/EC) aims to combat discrimination based on sex, including against trans people, in relation to employment and social security, including access to employment, training, pay and working conditions, and the freedom to join unions and professional organisations.
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