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By May 12, 2020June 26th, 2024No Comments



Employment discrimination is a well litigated area in the Workplace Relations Commission and the courts. The Equality Acts set out the grounds for which discrimination is not allowed as follows; gender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and membership of the Traveller community.

What is a Contractor?

This is a question to which entire books have been dedicated! It is a question to be explored on a case by case basis and the courts have put forward a number of tests and criteria to establish an answer. The “control” test is one example which explores the level of control the “employer” has over the work of the employee/contractor. One could look at the contractors own situation and ask whether they supply their own tools; whether they are responsible for their own tax returns and insurance; whether they determine hours and place of work. The purpose of this note is not to explore this question in detail.

An employee is usually deemed to have a contract of employment and a contractor usually deemed to have a contract for employment.

Extension of the Equality Acts to Contractors

What is clear is that the Equality Acts do not just apply to employees. The issue was dealt with by the Labour Court in the decision of Moyne Veterinary Clinic / Natasha Nowacki. The Claimant was a surgeon and claimed discrimination on grounds of gender and family status by the partners in the Clinic. It was initially held that the Claimant was not an employee so could not avail of relief under the Acts. However, the Labour Court allowed the appeal and held that the Section 2 of the Acts (defining a contract of employment) was broad enough and referenced a person being employed on “any other contract” which they held to extend to a person employed by a contract for employment.

Who personally executes the work / services

They did include in their decision the fact that the Claimant was required to “personally execute” the work assigned to her by the Clinic which is a noteworthy point.

Partnerships are also expressly included in the Equality Acts.

If you have any queries relating to employment law please do not hesitate to contact Niall MacCarthy or Brendan Dillon on or by phone (01) 2960666.