It is against Irish law to harass or sexually harass an employee under the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015. This includes sexual harassment and harassment by colleagues, the employer, clients or other contacts of the employer.
Harassment, under the Act, is defined as unwanted conduct which is related to any of the 9 discriminatory grounds:
- Gender: A man, a woman or a transsexual person (specific protection is provided for pregnant employees or in relation to maternity leave)
- Marital status: Single, married, separated, divorced, or widowed
- Family status: Having responsibility either as a parent or as a person in loco parentis for someone below 18 years of age, or as a parent or resident primary carer for someone 18 years or over with a disability who requires a high degree of support and attention
- Age: People in employment between the ages of 18 and 65; and people in vocational training between the ages of 15 and 65
- Disability: Persons with physical, intellectual, learning, cognitive or emotional disabilities and a range of medical conditions
- Race: Nationality colour, ethnic or national origin.
- Sexual Orientation: Gay, lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual; (The Court of Justice in PSV held that discrimination against a transsexual constituted discrimination on the grounds of sex.)
- Religious Belief: Religious background or outlook or lack of religious belief
- Membership of the Traveller Community: People who are commonly called Travellers, who are identified both by Travellers and others as people with a shared history, culture and traditions, identified historically as a nomadic way of life on the island of Ireland
Harassment is defined in section 14A(7) of the Acts as any form of unwanted conduct related to any of the discriminatory grounds which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person.
Sexual harassment is any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. In both cases it is defined as conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person and it is prohibited under the Acts.
The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform produced an updated Code of Practice on Sexual Harassment and Harassment in 2012. The codes states that employers should adopt implement and monitor a comprehensive policy on sexual harassment and harassment.
We can help you develop a policy based on this code. Our expert team is also available to assist with workplace issues and to carry out investigations.