Healy O'Connor

Indirect Discrimination at Work – How to Deal with it?

Each work environment has its own challenges such as impending deadlines, difficult clients, taking responsibility for our mistakes and many more. However, we can also be met with difficulties coming from a quite unexpected source – our colleagues or bosses. What is indiscrimination at work, and how can we deal with it? Let’s find out!

Types of Discrimination at Work

First, we should learn more about what is discrimination at work and recognise that there are two types of this behaviour – direct and indirect. Direct kinds of discrimination can take a form of harassment, abuse or unfair treatment, and they are all based on certain characteristics of a person, such as their gender, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, disability, marital status, family status as well as the Membership of the Traveller community. For example, a male employee is offered a managerial position instead of a more experienced and qualified female worker. Another illustration of this form of discrimination is when during the hiring process applications from foreign-sounding individuals are automatically rejected.

What is Indirect Discrimination at Work?

As we can see, direct discrimination is quite easy to recognise and prove. However, there are also situations where there is a certain practice, rule or policy in the company that applies to every person in the same way but indirectly affects some of the employees in a negative way. In theory, implementing practices, rules or policies that treat everyone equally sounds like a good idea. The intention may be positive, but often, companies are not aware of what effect, in reality, each regulation will have on every employee. Those policies apply to all of the people in the same way, yet they have a detrimental impact only on some of them. In that case, we deal with indirect discrimination at work. For example, if an employer sends the whole team to work on a trade fair that happens over the weekend, it can negatively impact Jewish employees who can’t work during Sabbath. When it comes to disability discrimination at work, examples may include a situation when a job advertisement for a primary school teacher requires a driving license. This ability doesn’t seem essential to the position, and candidates who have epilepsy are at a disadvantage.

How to Deal with Discrimination at Work?

Now that we know more about both types of discrimination, it’s time to learn how to deal with discrimination at work. It is important to remember that The Employment Equality Act, 1998 is in force. This law applies to every type of employer and outlaws discrimination in employment based on the nine grounds we mentioned earlier. If you feel that you experienced one of the direct or indirect forms of discrimination at your workplace, contact a solicitor who specializes in Work Issues and seek legal advice from a professional. It is also essential to remember that there is a time limit forced for submitting a claim concerning discrimination in the workplace. Usually, that period is 6 months, but it can be extended to 12 months if solicitors can present a “reasonable cause” for the delay.

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