reportING racisT discrimination in Ireland

Welcome to INAR’s Responding to Racism Blog based on the Responding to Racism Guide: How to Report Racism and Where to Find Help.

This article is part of the second blog post of the series on reporting racism in Ireland. Find out where to report racist discrimination, how to go about finding redress and how to use existing legislation to address it.

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Reporting racist discrimination in Ireland

Mar 13, 2020Responding to Racism Blog, Uncategorized0 comments

Reporting racism, either as a victim, witness or supporter, can be a confusing and complex task to navigate. We hope that the below article will help you recognise if what happened was a racist crime or an act of discrimination, and inform you what steps to take next.

Before you go ahead with making a complaint, please take a moment and read our previous article outlining what you should take under consideration while reporting racism. 

We encourage the reporting of ALL types of racist incidents to and relevant bodies and we hope that this article will make this process easier and clearer for those affected.


Before your report racism, recognise what happened

Before you report a racist incident, you should identify the form of racism that has taken place. Was it discrimination in employment or in access to services, which relates to equality legislation, or a criminal act which relates to criminal law? See below for information what racist crime and discrimination are, as answering this important question is crucial to determine where and how you should progress with reporting the incident. 

Racist crime

hate crime is a crime motivated by prejudice when a perpetrator targets a victim because of their perceived membership of a certain social group.

Hate crime has two important elements:

  1. CRIMINAL ACT: Hate crimes are acts which are treated as crimes in CRIMINAL LAW. Those offences include:
  • Murder
  • Assault, including assault causing harm or serious harm.
  • Criminal damage to property or threat of criminal damage.
  • Rape or sexual assault.
  • Public order offences (disorderly conduct, threatening and abusive behaviour, affray, violent disorder).
  1. BIAS MOTIVATIONHate crimes are motivated, at least in part, by bias or prejudice against someone’s real or supposed identity or background.

Racist crimes should be reported to An Garda Síochána.

Racist discrimination

Discrimination occurs when a person is treated in a less favourable way than another person is treated in a comparable situation based on any of the nine prohibited grounds listed in the EQUALITY LEGISLATION:

  1. Gender (including transgender)
  2. Civil status
  3. Family status
  4. Age
  5. ‘Race’ (includes skin colour, ethnicity and nationality)
  6. Religion (or none)
  7. Disability
  8. Sexual orientation
  9. Membership of Traveller Community

The tenth ground of discrimination has recently been added.

  1. Housing assistance (i.e. in the provision of accommodation)

Discrimination is outlawed by Irish equality legislation in the workplace and in the provision of goods and services. 

All racist discrimination cases, either at work or in access to goods and services, should be reported to the Workplace Relations Commission.


Reporting racist discrimination

Regardless of your background, you have the right to equal access, not just to services but also to the delivery of services, free from discrimination, racism or prejudice. This means whether this prejudice or discrimination is based on your nationality, ethnic background, religion, membership of the Traveller community or skin colour, in the workplace and in access to services.

Racist discrimination and the Law

Discrimination is outlawed by Irish equality legislation in the workplace and in the provision of goods and services. 

DISCRIMINATION AT WORK is covered by the Employment Equality Acts 1998–2015. You can make a claim under these Acts if you are an employee or a job seeker, and you feel you are discriminated against unlawfully, on any of the nine prohibited grounds listed above.

THE LEGISLATION COVERS: all aspects of work including job advertising, recruitment and promotion, equal pay, working conditions, vocational training or work experience, collective agreements, dismissal, harassment etc.

FIND OUT MORE here or read Your Employment Rights Explained. 


DISCRIMINATION IN THE PROVISION OF GOODS AND SERVICES is covered by the Equal Status Acts 2000–2015. If you are trying to access goods or services, whether provided by the state or the private sector, and you feel you are discriminated against on any of the prohibited grounds, you can make a claim under these Acts.

THE LEGISLATION COVERS: goods and services provided by the state or the private sector and generally available to the public. These include facilities for refreshments, entertainment, banking, insurance, grants, credit facilities, transport and travel services. Discrimination in the disposal of premises, provision of accommodation, admission to, access to and conditions of participation in educational courses or establishments are also prohibited subject to some exemptions.

THE ACTS APPLY TO ANYONE WHO: buys or sells goods that are available to the public or a section of the public; uses or provides services that are available to the public or a section of the public; provides or uses accommodation (landlords, tenants, hotels and so on); or attends or manages a pre-school, school, college or another educational establishment.

FIND OUT MORE:  here or read Your Equal Status Rights Explained.

Direct discrimination is when a person is treated less favourable than another, in similar circumstances, because of his or her ‘race’, ethnicity, national origin, nationality or skin colour.
Indirect discrimination is about practices or policies, some of which may superficially appear to be fair, but which in effect result in discrimination against one or more ethnic minority groups. It happens where people are, for example, refused employment because of a policy, practice, or requirement that they find hard to meet because of their background. Indirect discrimination can be intentional or unintentional, for example the effect of not accepting equivalent qualifications obtained outside of Ireland can be discriminatory. 
Discrimination by association happens when a person associated with another person who belongs to a particular ethnic minority is treated worse because of that association.
Discrimination by imputation happens when a person is treated worse because they are assumed to belong to one of the categories covered by the nine grounds, whether that is the case or not.
Harassment 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. The unwanted conduct may include acts, requests, spoken words, gestures or the production, display or circulation of written words, pictures or other materials.
The Equality Acts (Employment and Equal Status) specifically protect a person against victimisation, which means penalising a person for making a complaint of discrimination, harassment, or for giving evidence in someone else’s complaint or lawfully opposing unlawful discrimination.

VICARIOUS LIABILITY: An employer or a provider of goods or services (private or public) is responsible for making sure that anyone who has a right to be on their premises is not harassed and they must take steps to prevent it from happening. It means that if you are harassed in your workplace or while accessing services, the person in charge of that place could be held responsible for the harassment, unless they can establish that they took reasonably practicable steps to prevent an employee or a service user from being harassed. This includes, for example, employers, school principals, shopkeepers, landlords, public servants and so on.

Where to report racist discrimination

There are two main statutory bodies responsible for ensuring that the equality laws in the workplace and in the provision of goods and services are promoted and upheld in Ireland. Those are the WORKPLACE RELATIONS COMMISSION (WRC), which is like a court and deals with both workplace and services discrimination cases, and the IRISH HUMAN RIGHTS AND EQUALITY COMMISSION (IHREC).

Claims of discrimination in relation to clubs and licensed premises (such as bars, nightclubs, restaurants etc.) are dealt with separately in the DISTRICT COURT and not in the Workplace Relations Commission.


Workplace Relations Customer Service, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, O’Brien Road, Carlow

T: 059 917 8990  Lo-call: 1890 808 090  WEB:

Established in 2015, the WRC has taken over the functions of the National Employment Rights Authority, the Labour Relations Commission and the Director of the Equality Tribunal. WRC is an independent, statutory body. It provides general information on employment law, equality and industrial relations to both employers and employees. It deals with all complaints of discrimination in employment and access to goods and services. It is like a court and it has the power to investigate, judge and decide on equality cases.



The Your Rights service provides information on your rights and the remedies available to you under equality and human rights law in Ireland.

The IHREC provides general information and legal information to the public on human rights and equality legislation. It can advise and support you to bring a discrimination claim, but it has no power to decide a case. The IHREC may provide legal assistance or representation to people before the Workplace Relations Commission (see below) or other relevant Courts. Guidance on applying for legal assistance is available on request.

If IHREC does not grant you legal assistance this does not stop you from bringing your case to the WRC. You can represent yourself or be represented by a lawyer, trade union or other representative.


If for whatever reason either a person who experienced discrimination decides not to contact the WRC, an incident can be anonymously reported to IREPORT.IE, so there is a record. If not reported anywhere, racism stays invisible and can’t be addressed. It’s important to remember that reporting to does not replace reporting to the WRC or other bodies.


How to report racist discrimination


This step applies to the Equal Status (access to goods & services) complaints only and is not required while making complaints in relation to workplace disputes under the Employment Equality Acts.

—> In workplace discrimination cases the complaint process starts from the Step 2 below.  <—

Before making a complaint to the WRC in relation to the provision of goods and services (under the Equal Status Acts), you must notify the respondent (the person/organisation/company against which you are considering a complaint) in writing, of the alleged discrimination.

  • Form ES1 for the person making complaint: To provide the notification of your complaint, fill this form in with information concerning the alleged discrimination.
  • Form ES2 for the respondent: This form must be sent to the respondent for them to fill in and give them a chance to outline what happened from their point of view.

Click to download ES1 and ES2 forms 

  • You must send both forms directly to the respondent and NOT to the WRC within 2 months of the last act of discrimination in question.
  • The respondent is not obliged to respond to this notification, but if they don’t or if they provide false or misleading information, an Adjudication Officer may take account of this when he or she is deciding your case.

You can make a complaint to the WRC within 6 months of the discrimination you are complaining about (or the last incident, if there were many) if:


  • You have not received a reply to your notification from the respondent within a month. See: STEP 1, or
  • If you are not satisfied with a reply you have received. A copy of the notification and the respondent’s reply should be sent with the Complaint Form to the WRC.


  • You are making a workplace-related complaint under the Employment Equality Acts.
  • Use the e-Complaint Form available on the WRC homepage and provide as much information as possible. You can submit multiple complaints at the same time.
  • The WRC is impartial between the complainant and respondent and all material received from one party will be copied to the other, so that both parties are fully aware of all the material received.
When the WRC receives your complaint, it will deal with it by either mediation or investigation, or both.


  • MEDITATION: If both parties agree to enter the process, the WRC appoints a neutral mediation officer to help them reach an agreement and settle the dispute. If a settlement is reached through mediation, both parties must agree on its terms which are legally binding and can be enforced through the Courts.
  • ADJUDICATION: If the case is not dealt with by mediation or it fails, the claim will be referred to an adjudication officer who will investigate the claim and make a legally binding decision based on oral and written evidence of both parties at the hearing.
  • If you are making a complaint to WRC, you may represent yourself or you can choose to be represented by a lawyer, trade union, community group or some other representative. You pay for your own representation.
step 4: RESULTS
WINNING A CLAIM: If you win your claim, different types of orders can be made including one or more of the following: compensation, an order for equal pay or equal treatment, and/or an order that somebody take a specified action.

DISMISSING A CLAIM can happen when:


  • An adjudication officer considers that the claim was made for the wrong reasons – for example, to irritate or annoy somebody or not related to any of the listed grounds of discrimination.
  • After a year, it appears that the person making the complaint has decided to drop it.

Either party unsatisfied with the WRC’s decision may appeal it in writing to:

Appeals must be made within 42 days of the date of the decision. If no appeal is lodged after this period, the decision is legally binding.

Where a decision is made on an appeal:

  • Either party to the dispute may appeal the Labour Court’s or the Circuit Court’s decision further tothe HIGH COURT on a point of law, where the Court does not deal with the facts of the case, but instead decides on the interpretation of the law itself.
  • All claims must pass through the WRC first.
  • You can represent yourself or be represented by a lawyer, trade union or other representative.
  • Unlike the WRC, costs are awarded in the Circuit Court and other courts.

Obeying the ruling:

If the WRC decision has not been appealed and the adjudicator’s decision or any settlement terms are not carried out within 56 days from the date the decision was issued to the parties, the matter can be brought to the DISTRICT COURT to enforce the decision. The application must be made to a judge of the District Court in which the Employer/Respondent concerned ordinarily resides by:

  • The Employee/Complainant or their legal representative,
  • A Trade Union, with consent of employee, or
  • An excepted body of which the employee/complainant is a member.

A list of DISTRICT COURT OFFICES is available on the Court Services website under ‘Contact Us’.  

More information about the procedures in the investigation of employment and equality complaint is available on the Workplace Relations Commission website

Reporting racist discrimination: find out more

Responding to Racism Guide

The Responding to Racism Guide: How to Report Racism and Where to Find Help provides detailed information about the internal complaints procedures of various bodies should you wish to bring your case to their attention. Additionally, it lists other organisations that may support your case, offer advocacy or alternative options for getting redress.

Organisations relevant to dealing with workplace racism are listed in Chapter 3.3 of the Guide and those which may help address racism in the provision of the following goods and services in Chapter 3.4.: 

  • Public bodies
  • Immigration, asylum and Direct Provision
  • Social welfare
  • Housing
  • Health and family
  • Education
  • Youth work services
  • Sport
  • Transport

Responding to Racism Blog

This article is part of INAR's Responding to Racism blog based on the Responding to Racism Guide: How to Report Racism and Where to Find Help. Articles collected in this blog aim to provide practical information and guidance on how to report and respond to racist incidents in Ireland. Articles range from information about what racism is, why and how to report it, to information on where to report racism depending on what actually happened, to bystander intervention techniques, responding to racism in a community and supports available to victims.

The longer-term goal is to develop these articles as a part of the national one-stop-shop online resource on reporting and responding to racism, easily available to anyone affected by racism in Ireland. We hope that the provided information will encourage readers to report racism and inspire them to re-think their role in addressing it.