Semester II Assignment
Alan O’ Mahony – 09684905
Critically evaluate the effectiveness of the relevant provisions of the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2011 (and their predecessors) in eliminating pay discrimination on the ground of gender within the workplace and thus reducing the gender pay gap. __________________________________________________________________________
Traditionally gender discrimination was rife and accepted in most aspects of society. These attitudes and tendencies have carried through hundreds of years and are still visible today. Many laws and legislations have been passed in recent years in order to combat the problematic situation involving employment equality. Personally I believe that everybody should be treated equally having the right to work and make a living. However from my research it has become clear that this is not easily achieved for a number of reasons which I will address later in this essay. Discrimination can be defined as “the differential treatment of individuals or groups based on arbitrary or ascriptive criteria such as gender, race, religion, age, marital or parental status, disability, sexual orientation, political opinions, socio-economic background, trade union membership and activities” and so on. It occurs when one person is treated less favourably then another. In the past employers had the sole right to only employ those who they wished and to refuse employment to those on any ground which they suited. Employees had no right of action against employers. Lord Davey described the state of the law in the very early English case of Allen V Flood: “An employer may refuse to employ (a workman) from the most capricious, malicious or morally reprehensible motives that can be perceived but the workman has no right of action against him”. Common law was explicitly discriminatory on the gender ground. In R V Crosthwaite the ruling debarred women from any public office. This law was present until 1919 when the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act removed most of the legal restrictions on the appointment of women to public offices or professions but it did not do anything to aid them in attaining such appointments. It was highlighted in Price V Rhondda Urban District Council that the 1919 Act had removed all disqualifications based on gender; however it had conferred no rights to women. In this case, the court ruled in favour of the employer who dismissed 58 married women teachers, stating that the employer’s behaviour had not violated the Act. I wanted to find out why women have been discriminated against in employment circumstances for many years. Another example of the state of the law was the case of Roberts V Hopwood. Here, a labour dominated borough council had decided to equalise pay rates between its male and female employees. This controversial decision at the time was held to be so unreasonable, having regard to the council’s responsibilities as trustees of the rate payers’ money, as to be ultra vires. Historically, women have always been expected to carry out their family duties from the home. This has coincided with many other reasons such as religious views, family laws which force arranged marriages and the views of some people that certain jobs are for ‘men only’ or are more suited to men (the construction industry for example). In this essay I will thoroughly assess the Irish experience to eliminate pay and employment discrimination against females. The stimulus for employment equality legislation in Ireland was joining the European Economic Community in 1973. Since its early beginnings, sex equality has been one of the most important pillars of the European Union’s social policy. Article 119 of the EC Treaty provided that “men and women receive equal pay for equal work”. This Article became the springboard for a much needed employment equality legislation in Ireland. Directive 75/117/EEC developed Article 119 further and...