European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)






The Equality Tribunal was established under the terms of the Employment Equality Act of 1998, along with the Equality Authority (see previous chapter).

The Equality Tribunal is the accessible and impartial forum which adjudicates or mediates individual cases of alleged discrimination, direct and indirect, in both employment (including pensions) and the provision of goods and services, which may come before it. Collective agreements may also be referred to the Tribunal for investigation or mediation.


Cases before the Tribunal are referred to mediation unless either party objects. Mediation is an internationally recognised process carried out by a trained Equality Mediation Officer, who will assist those in dispute to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. The process involves the respondent and the complainant coming together with a Mediator. It is entirely voluntary and either side can end mediation at any time. The case can then be dealt with by investigation instead. The agreement reached is confidential and is signed by both parties. When signed it is legally binding and can be enforced through the civil courts.


Where a case does not go to mediation, it is referred instead for investigation. An investigation is a quasi-judicial process carried out by an Equality Officer who will normally consider written submissions from both parties before arranging a joint hearing or hearings of the issue in contention, to enable him or her to reach a decision in the matter. Hearings are heard in private and are held in a location which is best suited to the parties concerned.

After hearing all the evidence, the Equality Officer will consider the matter and issue a detailed written Decision. The Decision is first issued to the parties to the case and is subsequently published. Decisions of the Tribunal are legally binding but are also subject to appeal. Cases taken under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 and 2004 and under the Pensions Acts 1990-2004 may be appealed, by either side to the Labour Court, an Industrial Relations Tribunal. Cases taken under the Equal Status Acts 2000 - 2004 may be appealed, by either side, to the civil courts.

Equality Officers receive specialist training to enable them to carry out their functions effectively. They have extensive powers which allow them, where necessary, to require the attendance of witnesses, enter premises and obtain information which may assist them in the effective conduct of an investigation


If an Equality Officer finds that discrimination under the legislation has occurred, he or she must order redress. Redress will consist of one or more of the following: an order of compensation payable by the respondent to the complainant, an order of equal pay, an order for equal treatment and/or an order for a specific course of action to be taken by a specific party. Financial compensation in employment cases cannot be more than two years (104 weeks) pay and in the case of awards under the Equal Status Acts 2000-2004, they cannot exceed €6 349. In the majority of Decisions made to date, awards have been substantially less than the maximum permitted. Overall between a quarter and a third of cases are decided in favour of the complainant.


Legal representation is not necessary at Tribunal Hearings but either side may choose to be legally represented or to be represented by a professional association or by a representative body, if they wish.


Because of the quasi-judicial nature of the Tribunal’s functions and the need for the Tribunal to remain absolutely impartial in dealing with the issues which come before it, it may only give procedural information to the public. It cannot give advice to the parties to disputes in discrimination cases.

Claims on the race ground

Claims on the race ground under the equality legislation for which the Tribunal has responsibility have shown a steady increase.

In employment, claims have risen from 2 in 2000 to 51 in 2004.

In equal status, claims have risen from 0 in 2000 to 21 in 2004.

There have been no pension claims referred on the race ground.


The Equality Tribunal
3 Clonmel Street
Tel: +353 1 4774100
Fax: +353 1 4774141
Web site: