Case Number: ADJ-00000148. Workplace Relations Commission

CourtWorkplace Relations Commission
Docket NumberADJ-00000148
Date25 January 2017
PartiesAn Employee V An Employer

Adjudication Decision Reference: ADJ-00000148

Complaint(s)/Dispute(s) for Resolution:


Complaint/Dispute Reference No.

Date of Receipt

Complaint seeking adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission under section 77 of the Employment Equality Act, 1998



Date of Adjudication Hearing: 04/10/2016

Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Joe Donnelly


In accordance with Section 79 of the Employment Equality Act, 1998, following the referral of the complaint to me by the Director General, I inquired into the complaint and gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any evidence relevant to the complaint.

Complainant’s Submission and Presentation:

The complainant is a female fire-fighter. When a new fire station was constructed it did not provide any facilities for female fire-fighters. The male fire-fighters were provided with facilities such as locker rooms, changing rooms, showers and WCs. The complainant raised these issues with management and suggested interim solutions but there was no agreement in this regard. The complainant was placed on paid leave while a solution was being sought. This resulted in the loss of overtime and acting-up payments. The complainant believes that she has been treated less favourably in relation to her terms of employment and discriminated against on gender grounds contrary to the Employment Equality Act, 1998.

Respondent’s Submission and Presentation:

The fire station was constructed with unisex facilities similar to those in existence in other stations around the country.

The respondent did its best to resolve the issues and implemented changes in facilities in this regard.

The complainant was placed on paid leave whilst these matters were being attended to.

The respondent engaged an independent equality consultant to assess the matters in dispute.

The respondent has implemented the consultant’s recommendations.

The respondent denies discriminating against the complainant as alleged or at all.


Section 79(6) of the Employment Equality Act, 1998 requires that I make a decision in relation to the complaint in accordance with the relevant redress provisions under section 82 of the Act.

Issues for Decision:

Was the complainant discriminated against on the grounds of gender in relation to her conditions of employment?

Legislation involved and requirements of legislation:

Section 6(1) of the Employment Equality Act, 1998, states:

For the purposes of this Act and without prejudice to its provisions relating to discrimination occurring in particular circumstances discrimination shall be taken to occur where –

  1. a person is treated less favourably than another person is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation on any of the grounds specified in subsection (2) (in this Act referred to as the ‘discriminatory grounds’) which –

  1. exists,

  2. existed but no longer exists,

  3. may exist in the future, or

  4. is imputed to the person concerned.

(2) As between any 2 persons, the discriminatory grounds (and the descriptions of these grounds for the purposes of this Act) are –

(a) that one is a woman and the other is a man (in this Act referred to as “the gender ground”)…

Section 8(1) of the Act states:

In relation to –

  1. access to employment

  2. conditions of employment

  3. training or experience for or in relation to employment

  4. promotion or re-grading, or

  5. classification of posts,

an employer shall not discriminate against an employee or prospective employee and a provider of agency work shall not discriminate against an agency worker.

Section 8(6) of the Act states:

Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), an employer shall be taken to discriminate against an employee or prospective employee in relation to conditions of employment if, the employer does not offer or afford to that employee or prospective employee or to a class of persons of which he or she is one –

  1. the same terms of employment (other than remuneration or pension rights),

  2. the same working conditions, and

  3. the same treatment in relation to overtime, shift work, short time, transfers, lay-offs, redundancies, dismissals and disciplinary measures,

as the employer offers or affords to another person or class of persons, where the circumstances in which both such persons or classes are or would be employed are not materially different.


The background to this case is that the respondent built a new fire station which officially became operational in June 2015. The complainant joined the service in 2001 in a retained capacity and was appointed to a full-time permanent position in April 2005. She is paid €1,275.00 per week and works 39 hours per week on a shift basis.

The complainant was the only female firefighter posted to the new station. During the construction period (which was extended over a number of years) the complainant had enquired about female facilities in the new station and was advised that this should not be a problem. When visiting the station for the first time it became obvious to the complainant that there were no separate facilities for males and females. She was then informed that the facilities were...

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