Key Learnings

This case highlights the importance of pay parity in particular to mitigate against allegations of discrimination under any of the protected characteristics as set out in the Employment Equality Acts. It also emphasises an Employers obligation in truly understanding whether objective justifications exist when it comes to equality and in particular the promotion of establishing procedures on equal pay. The Code of Practice on Equal Pay was developed by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to promote equality of opportunity in employment and to eliminate discrimination and covers those who perform work that is the same or similar to that of another person performing work of equal value, who is employed by the same or an associated Employer. The code aims to give practical guidance to Employers on the right to equal pay, the elimination of pay inequality and the resolution of pay disputes. This case is a timely reminder of the protections that are in place under both the legislation and code of practice and a reminder of what is to come with the introduction of the EU Directive on Pay Transparency.


The Complainant outlines that he was discriminated against on grounds of age, including equal pay. The Respondent denies the claims.

Summary of Complainant’s Case

On affirmation, the Complainant said that he commenced the role in August 2010 and was paid €12 per hour. He was assigned tasks by the General Manager, the Housekeeping Manager, and the Facilities Manager. He said that he was paid less than three named Comparators, who were younger than him and this was discrimination on grounds of age.

The Complainant outlined that his qualifications were second to none. He had asked for pay rises on many occasions, but the Respondent hired staff on higher rates of pay. The Comparators were not better qualified than he was. He had started his career as a maintenance fitter and progressed to being Maintenance Supervisor before moving to a Managerial Role.

Summary of Respondent’s Case

The Facilities Manager said that rates of pay are based on staff members’ experience and what they bring to the table. He acknowledged that the Complainant had more plumbing knowledge than one named Comparator, but this person had more electrical knowledge. While the Comparator was not RECI registered, he did a wider range of roles. The Comparator was on €13.50 per hour, and progressed to €14.50 per hour.

The second Comparator was a very experienced builder and general operative. He had run his own company. He was paid €17.25 per hour. The third Comparator had worked for a time. He was a time-served plumber with great experience in hotels. He had been paid €17.75 per hour.

Findings and Conclusions

This is a complaint of discrimination on the age ground pursuant to the Employment Equality Act. The Complainant must establish facts of such significance that raise the inference or presumption of discrimination.

The Adjudicator has addressed the equal pay aspect of the claim below. In respect of the non-pay issues, the Adjudicator finds that there is insufficient evidence of any discrimination on grounds of age. While the Adjudicator accepts that the Complainant’s position eroded with the arrival of the Facilities Manager, there is no fact of such significance that points to age discrimination (other than equal pay, addressed below).

This is a complaint of discrimination on the grounds of age in respect of a contravention to equal remuneration. An Employee engaged in ‘like work’ with another is entitled to equal remuneration, provided they have the same or reasonably comparable terms and conditions of employment.

The Complainant was paid €12 per hour; his Comparators paid €13.50, then €14.50, then €17.25 and €17.75 per hour. The Complainant is, by far, the eldest of the group.

The Adjudicator finds as fact that the Complainant and the Comparators brought similar sets of skills and experience to the table. They did like work. The Employment Equality Act requires that they receive equal remuneration. The Complainant was paid less than each of the comparators.

Applying the burden of proof set out in section 85A, The Adjudicator states findings that the Complainant has pointed to facts of such significance that raises the inference of discrimination. The Complainant was older and as skilled and experienced as the Comparators yet paid less. The Respondent has not rebutted the inference of discrimination. There was, therefore, a contravention of the Employment Equality Act.

The Adjudicator found that the Complainant was underpaid on grounds of his age for at least three years. One Comparator earned €13.50 and then €14.50 when the Complainant’s pay did not change. The other Comparators earned €17.25 and €17.75. The Complainant was underpaid on grounds of his age for some time, at least as long as the three years permitted by the Employment Equality Act. Given the disparity in pay and the length of time, the Complainant was underpaid, and an award of €8,000 was granted.


The Adjudicator decided that the Complainant has not established a prima facie case of discrimination on grounds of age (other than equal pay) and the within claim is, therefore, dismissed.

The Adjudicator decided that the Complainant has established a case of discrimination on grounds of age in respect of equal remuneration and the Respondent has not rebutted the inference of discrimination. The Adjudicator decided that the Respondent shall pay the Complainant a redress of €8,000.