Blanket anonymity rules do not apply to discrimination decisions

18/05/2017

Restrictions on identifying the parties involved in disputes do not apply to decisions under the equality legislation, writes Emily Logan in the May 2017 Gazette.

Identifying parties

Prior to the reforms introduced by the Workplace Relations Act 2015, complaints of discrimination under the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 (EEA) and the Equal Status Acts 2000-2015 (ESA) were heard by the Equality Tribunal.

It was the practice of the tribunal to publish its decisions in a manner that identified the parties, except in cases of sexual harassment and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation (where identification of the complainant might inhibit the referral of complaints).

Transferred functions

On 1 October 2015, the functions of the Director of the Equality Tribunal for investigating complaints of discrimination under the EEA and the ESA were transferred to the Director General of the WRC. This has meant that complaints of discrimination referred after 1 October 2015 are now heard at first instance by WRC adjudication officers.

While WRC hearings are conducted in private, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) recently became aware of confusion among practitioners and others about whether the decisions of adjudication officers would be published in anonymised form.

In the May 2017 Gazette, IHREC Chief Commissioner Emily Logan writes that the statutory requirement of anonymity under the Workplace Relations Act 2015 does not  apply to decisions of adjudication officers in respect of complaints under the EEA and the ESA. Therefore, the director general enjoys discretion as to whether or not to publish relevant decisions. Logan sets out the case for publication in a Gazette ‘Viewpoint’ article.

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