The Equal Opportunity Act 2000 (EOA) prohibits an employer or prospective employer from discriminating against an employee or a prospective employee because of their status and also from discrimination by victimisation whereby the person victimised is less favourably treated that other persons.

How does the EOA protect an employee or a prospective employee?

The EOA protects employees during the course of employment and prospective employees from discrimination, during the application process and even where a person is seeking or undergoing training for any employment.

Section No. 9 of the Act states that an employer shall not discriminate against an employee:-

  • in the terms and conditions of employment;
  • by the way in which the employee is given access to opportunities for promotion, transfer, training or any other benefit, facility or service related to the employment; or by refusing or deliberately omitting to allow the employee to have access to them;
  • by dismissing the employee or subjecting the employee to any other disadvantages.

Section No. 8 of the Act states ‘An employer or prospective employer shall not discriminate’:
i) In the arrangements made for selecting who should be offered employment or
ii) In the terms and conditions in which employment is offered
iii) Nor by refusing or deliberately omitting to make an offer of employment.

Section No. 10 of the Act states ‘Where a person is seeking or undergoing training for any employment, the Act provides that the person shall not be discriminated against:
i) In the terms and conditions in which access is given to any training course or other facilities connected with the training’;
ii) Having their training terminated or being subjected to any detriment during the course of training.

There are however, exceptions to the above and the EOA does not apply to discrimination:
i.    in relation to a person’s sex in the case where being of a particular sex is a ‘Genuine Occupational Qualification’;

  • being of a particular religion is a necessary qualification for working in a Religious shop;
  • employment in domestic or personal services or family business; the employment of a person with disability:

    a) Taking into account the person’s ability to perform the job or the person’s performance if the person is already employed by the employer, the person because of disability would
    i) be unable to carry out essential requirements of the particular job;

    ii) in order to carry out the requirements of the job the person would require services or facilities which are not required by a person without a disability and which would impose an ‘unjustifiable hardship’ on the employer.
    b) because of the nature of the disability with which the person works or is to work or the nature of the work to perform or be performed there is likely to be a risk that the person will injure others or a risk that the person would injure themselves.