Employment Equality Update 2021

Employment Equality Update 2021

This is Ireland’s only event with a comprehensive and in-depth analysis of employment equality law developments.

We focus on the key areas of employment equality developments that will impact in Ireland. Chaired by Bernadette Treanor, Managing Consultant, Beo Solutions, and former Equality, sessions include:

  • Opening Address: Ms Justice Marie Baker, Judge of the Supreme Court, reflects and gives her thoughts on legal developments.
  • Irish Employment Equality Case Law Review 2021 with Marguerite Bolger SC  – Important cases from Ireland’s courts in the last year relevant to Ireland’s workplaces.
  • Gender Pay and Bias: Partnership in Law. With the Gender Pay Gap legislation now in its final stages, Rosemary Mallon BL discusses how to prepare to meet your new obligations, with a particular emphasis on partnerships and senior positions.
  • Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect and the National Remote Work Strategy – Are these Employment Equality Tools in Reality? Claire Bruton BL sets out the reasons for a likely increase in 'hybrid' claims linked to the new Code.
  • Your Opinions are NOT Important to Me - Crossing the (On)Line into Workplace Abuse: Cathal McGreal BL investigates online workplace abuse cases before the WRC and elsewhere and sets out measures likely to provide an employer with a statutory defence against liability for acts of harassment by their employees, online or otherwise.
  • EU and International Developments: Michelle Ní Longáin bring her annual in-depth analysis of the year’s important international cases and other overseas’ developments in the equality field.
  • Looking Forward: Other Employment Equality Developments to Watch Out For with Mary-Paula Guinness BL. Mary-Paula explores other equality matters that are currently developing and will impact soon in Ireland.

If you value employment equality law or advise on same, this is an essential CPD learning opportunity.

Why is this event important for YOU?

As an employment law practitioner, other representative at hearings, or seasoned HR professional you have to keep up to date with developments in this area if you are to defend or pursue cases successfully or simply to ensure your organisation is up to date with best practice. You need to know what has changed in order to give the latest, practical and correct advice.

Speakers will concentrate on important case law and useful arguments; the ratio and how these decisions impact on existing law. They will also provide detailed notes, practical templates and advice to all delegates.

After attending you will:

  • Know the latest developments in employment equality laws affecting Irish workplaces explained by renowned employment equality experts.
  • Have had the opportunity to question those experts about specific issues that matter to you and your organisation.
  • Have had the opportunity to hear answers to questions from other delegates with a serious interest in employment equality laws – previous years have seen several Adjudication Officers at this event, alongside many lawyers, other representatives, and senior HR practitioners.
  • Be able to advise on these developments and have detailed reference notes.
  • Have access to session recordings to watch after the event

More value from this event

This event comes with a full and comprehensive set of up to the minute notes for future reference, including analysis of relevant case law published in the month prior to this event. Delegates will also be able to access recordings of all sessions when made available after the event.

Who is it for?

This course is designed with experienced employment law practitioners, in-house lawyers and HR professionals in mind. NOTE: Speakers on this course are asked to assume that delegates have a reasonably sound knowledge of employment equality law. This event is not suitable for beginners in this field.

When & Where?

This event will take place online on the Hopin platform between 9.00am and 1.00pm on Wednesday 13 & Thursday 14 October 2021.


Early Bird Rate: €375 (deadline 5pm on Friday 3 September 2021)
Standard Rate: €425
Early Bird Charity Rate/Small Business Rate: €325 (deadline 5pm on Friday 3 September 2021)
Standard Charity/Small Business Rate: €375

More about our online events platform Hopin

This event will be hosted on a browser based platform named Hopin.  We have provided some information below to assist you when accessing the event:-

  • If you are using a Laptop. PC or Apple Mac please use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox browsers
  • The latest version of Edge may be used as long as all recent updates have been made within the last 4 weeks
  • If you are using a mobile device then Safari is recommended for IOS and Google Chrome on Android

We understand that some IT policies may restrict the downloading of new browsers, please check and if this is the case you may have to use your own personal device to access the event.

If you would like further information regarding the above, please contact us at events@legal-island.com and we will be happy to discuss with you further.

In association with:

Beo Solutions


Day 1: Wednesday 13 October 2021


Get to Know Us: Familiarise yourself with the functions of our online event to ensure you maximise return on your investment. Scott Alexander, Head ofLearning & Development, Legal Island.


Introduction and Welcome: Setting the scene and what to expect from the day. Bernadette Treanor, Managing Consultant, Beo Solutions, and former Equality Officer.


Opening Address: Ms Justice Marie Baker, Judge of the Supreme Court


Irish Employment Equality Case Law Review 2021

Marguerite Bolger SC provides an overview of this year’s important Irish employment equality cases before the Labour Court, High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court and highlights the key lessons for employers and employment law practitioners. Cases include:

  • Zalewski -v- Adjudication Office & ors [2021] IESC 24 (How this seminal case has changed employment equality cases before the WRC?)
  • Assured Personnel Ltd v Adam Herzyk [2020] EDA2015 (Disability Discrimination - failure to return employee to work)
  • Gino’s Italian Ice Cream Limited v Siobhan Nolan [2020] EDA2017 (Gender & Family Status Discrimination – failure provide opportunity for promotion on her return from maternity leave)
  • Health Service Executive v Ms Margaret Hannigan [2020] EDA2013 (Disability Discrimination – increased hours of work)
  • Jo Jingles Cork v Heather O'Sullivan [2020] EDA/2018, ADE/19/35 (Pregnancy Discrimination – Unfair dismissal on grounds of pregnancy)
  • Suchavadee Foley v Atercin Liffey Unlimited T/A Starbucks Tallaght [2021] ADJ-00028487 (Race Discrimination - Equal Status Case, vicarious liability for race discrimination - drawing on coffee cup)
  • Irish Prison Service v Robert Cunningham and The Labour Court [2021] IECA 19 (Disability Discrimination – preliminary issues)
  • Nicola Matthews v Department of Health [2021] ADJ-00025554 (Age Discrimination – recruitment)
  • A Claims Officer v An Insurance Company [2021] ADJ-00024079 (Race Discrimination – recruitment)
    • K and Others v Tesco Stores Ltd [2021] CJEU C-624/19 (Equal Pay Comparators)

NOTE: Subjects covered in this session may vary from those shown and will focus on the most important Irish cases at October 2021.


Q&A Marguerite Bolger SC answers your questions


Break – Stretch Your Legs, Get Away from the Screen, and we will see you in 30 mins


Gender Pay and Bias: Partnership in Law 

The Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 is likely to be approved this summer and a low gap between the average wage of women and men in an organisation will be an obvious and public identifier of your organisation’s actual D&I credentials. The Law Society of Ireland celebrated International Women’s Day this year with a call for renewed collective efforts to increase access to leadership roles for women in the legal sector. The call came as new figures showed that over half (53%) of solicitors currently practising in Ireland are women, but just over 1 in 3 (35%) are at partner level. What is required to improve the balance, necessary in the near future, if most employers and partnerships are to avoid unfavourable gender pay gap attention? Rosemary Mallon BL puts forward her suggestions – most of which are just as applicable to non-law firms. 


Rosemary Mallon BL answers your questions


Screen Break


Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect and the National Remote Work Strategy – Are these Employment Equality Tools in Reality? 

Employment Equality is about much more than rights under the Acts. In reality, working time is an equality issue, with many (mainly) women having to juggle work, home schooling, and home life to a far greater extent than men, as many studies during lockdown have shown, even though both partners work from home. Indeed, more women than men have asked for flexible hours to look after their children during the pandemic, according to a survey published in April by Ibec.

All employees now officially have had the Right to Disconnect from work and have a better work-life balance, after a new WRC Code of Practice was brought into law in March. The government has also announced its remote working strategy, very much tied in with the right to disconnect and a strategy on rural development. How might the Code and other initiatives create an interface between the right to disconnect and equality rights on family status or gender grounds? Claire Bruton BL sets out the reasons for a likely increase in 'hybrid' claims linked to the new Code.


Q&A Claire Bruton BL answers your questions.


Summary and Close: Final words from Bernadette Treanor


Day 2: Thursday 14 October 2021


Welcome to Day 2: Scott Alexander & Bernadette Treanor welcome delegates back and summarises learning points from Day 1 of the event


Your Opinions are NOT Important to Me - Crossing the (On)Line into Workplace Abuse

Employees in Ireland commit discriminatory acts every day on social media sites, in WhatsApp messages and Facebook posts. Let’s not forget Instagram, TikTok and other popular video platforms. They not only hurt their colleagues, but they also expose their employers to vicarious liability and unwanted (news media) attention. And, when commenced, just imagine how the newCriminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill 2021 might be used in a workplace online harassment or bullying setting. Or how an employee’s conviction for a hate crime outside of employment might impact on their relationship with colleagues and their employer.

There is, of course, a Statutory Defence Against Harassment Allegations. However, a Bar of Ireland Members' survey published in 2019 found there was experience of comparatively widespread discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment even at the Bar.

The 2020 case of Victor Kings Oluebube v CPL Solutions Limited t/a Flexsource Recruitment ADJ-00024254, looked at the issue of harassment and a defence to harassment pursuant to Section 14(2) of the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015. The employer successfully defended itself against vicarious liability for some shocking incidents of harassment.

Cathal McGreal BL investigates online workplace abuse cases before the WRC and elsewhere and sets out measures likely to provide an employer with a statutory defence against liability for acts of harassment by their employees, online or otherwise.


Q&A Cathal McGreal BL answers your questions


Break – Stretch Your Legs, Get Away from the Screen, and we will see you in 30 mins


EU and International Developments

Almost all employment equality rights in Ireland are derived from EU legislation. Therefore, employment equality cases decided at the CJEU have a huge influence on our domestic laws and often set a precedent that must be followed by courts in Ireland. Cases at the European Court of Human Rights can also have a big impact in Ireland. Michelle Ní Longáin, Partner, ByrneWallace LLP, provides an in-depth analysis of the year’s important international cases and other overseas’ developments in the equality field. Cases include:

  • Vavřička and Others v. the Czech Republic (application no. 47621/13) [2021] ECtHR – Exclusion of unvaccinated children from education provision
  • Gawlik v. Liechtenstein (application no. 23922/19) [2021] ECtHR - freedom of expression and unsubstantiated allegations
  • X and Y v. Romania (applications nos. 2145/16 and 20607/16) [2021] ECtHR - refusal to legally recognise a change of gender identity in the absence of surgery
  • Istrate v. Romania (application no. 44546/13) [2021] ECtHR presumption of innocence in dismissal and criminal proceedings
  • Gruba and Others v Russia (application 66180/09)[2021] ECtHR 214 Art. 14: prohibition of discrimination; entitlement to parental leave; and gender discrimination
  • Jurčić v. Croatia (application no. 54711/15) [2021] ECtHR denial of employment health-insurance coverage during pregnancy
  • VL v Szpital Kliniczny [2021] CJEU Case C‑16/19 disability discrimination and comparators
  • IX v WABE eV; MH Müller Handels GmbH v MJ [2021] Cases C‑804/18 and C‑341/19 prohibition on workers wearing any visible sign of political, philosophical or religious belief in the workplace does not constitute direct religion or belief discrimination under the EU Equal Treatment Framework Directive

Other international developments this year include:

  • Ireland’s first report to the UN under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: how has ratification of the UNCRPD changed the rights of disabled people in Ireland?
  • Pay Transparency: EU Commission Proposes Measures to Ensure Equal Pay for Equal Work
  • Parental Rights and Sacrificing Paid Work: Policies outside of Ireland that might point the way to gender equality in the workplace

NOTE: Subjects covered in this session may vary from those shown and will focus on the most important CJEU/ECtHR cases and other international developments at October 2021.


Q&A speaker tbc answers your questions.


Screen Break


Looking Forward: Other Employment Equality Developments to Watch Out For

We’ve covered a lot of equality issues elsewhere in this event. In our final session, Mary-Paula Guinness BL explores other equality matters that are developing and will impact soon in Ireland, such as:

  • Domestic Violence: Increasingly an employer’s responsibility since WFH became normal?
  • Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2021: Codeswitching - can your accent really affect your job prospects?
  • Consultation on the Review of the Equality Acts: What is Likely to Change?
  • Gender-Neutral Pronouns: Is it Time to Become More Inclusive?
  • Stereotypes in Ireland: Have the Starbucks and Department of Health cases exposed a real unconscious bias problem for employers?

NOTE: Subjects covered in this session may vary from those shown and will focus on the most important employment equality developments at October 2021 that are not explored in detail elsewhere in this programme.


Q&A Mary-Paula Guinness BL answers your questions


Summary and Close: Final words from Bernadette Treanor


"This was the first digital conference I have attended, and I was beyond impressed by the professionalism of the platform, how smooth and efficient the speakers ran, and the ability to still interact with speakers. A fantastic, worthwhile experience overall!"
Katie Cundelan, Legal Research Intern, Workplace Relations Commission

"Event ran smoothly platform held up well, nice to have the polls and chat function. Easy to move between them and access information as needed. The quality of the speakers is very impressive and it's great that I can rewatch the sessions - that's a real bonus."
Stacey Golden, HR Business Partner, Office of Government Procurement

"Very well organised, very relevant."
Celine Maguire, Group Head of HR, Queally Group

"Really good, very informative, great speakers"
Jane McCarthy, HR Manager, Broadcasting Authority of Ireland

"This event was very well organised, easily accessible and pleasant to engage with."
Aisling Carey, Legal Researcher, Workplace Relations Commission

"Excellent, it was easy to understand, and the quality of the connection was excellent".
Jennifer McCann, Solicitor

"The topics covered were very relevant, the speakers were knowledgeable and experts in the areas covered, and I also liked that it was split into two days this year."
Orla Jones, Adjudicator, Workplace Relations Commission

"Very efficient. The event ran very smoothly. Great introduction and setting of the scene by Bernadette. I really liked her acknowledgement of frontline workers."
Marian Jennings, Lecturer, TU Dublin

"It was very clear coverage, and the speakers were excellent. Best digital connection I have had."
Maura McKenna, Legal Advisor, Workplace Relations Commission



  • Ms Justice Marie Baker
    Ms Justice Marie Baker Judge of the Supreme Court

    Ms. Justice Baker was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court in 2019. 

    In 2014, she was appointed as a part-time Commissioner of the Law Reform Commission. She was a member of the advisory study group on pre-nuptial agreements which reported to Government in April 2007.

    In 2014. she was appointed a judge of the High Court and was assigned to the non-jury and judicial review lists. She was the judge in charge of the personal insolvency list and the non-contentious probate list from 2014 until her appointment to the Court of Appeal.

    Upon its coming into effect in May 2018, Ms. Justice Baker was appointed as the assigned judge for the purposes of the applicability of the Data Protection Act 2018 in respect of the supervision of data processing operations of the courts when acting in their judicial capacity.

  • Bernadette Treanor
    Bernadette Treanor Founder
    Beo Solutions

    Bernadette Treanor is the founder of Beo Solutions, an employee relations and engagement consultancy which provides best practice expert leadership and impartial organisational support in the areas of employee relations, employee engagement, workplace investigations, disciplinary hearings and mediation. 

    An expert in equality law, Bernadette provides Equality reviews and assessments, including assessments of cases being prepared. She is a Committee member of the Employment Law Association of Ireland (ELAI) and CIPD member. She reviews equality Decisions issued by the Equality Tribunal for Legal Island monthly and chairs its annual Equality Conference aimed at equality practitioners.

  • Marguerite Bolger SC
    Marguerite Bolger SC Senior Counsel

    Marguerite Bolger is a Senior Counsel specialising in employment law and has appeared in many of the key employment cases before the Irish and European courts. 

  • Claire Bruton BL
    Claire Bruton BL Registrar
    Workplace Relations Commission

    Claire Bruton BL is Registrar at the Workplace Relations Commission. She was previously a practising barrister specialising in employment law. Claire is editor of the Employment Law Reports and Irish Employment Law Journal. She is the co-author of The Irish Legal System (2009, Tottel) and is a co-author of Employment Equality Law (co-authors Bolger and Kimber) published by Round Hall Press in November 2012. 

  • Cathal McGreal BL
    Cathal McGreal BL

    Cathal McGreal BL is a graduate of UCD and the Honourable Society of Kings Inns with post graduate work in labour law and human rights (B.L. B.C.L. (Eurolegal) 1998). He is a practising barrister specialising in criminal law and employment law. He is a published author in both fields. He has represented public and private sector (individual and corporate) clients at every level of the courts and tribunal system. A lecturer at UCD, he also lectures widely on the conference circuit on current law and practice. 

  • Mary-Paula Guinness BL
    Mary-Paula Guinness BL

    Mary-Paula is a former Solicitor who transferred to the bar and specialises in employment law.

  • Rosemary Mallon BL
    Rosemary Mallon BL

    Rosemary Mallon commenced practice in 2003. She specialises in employment law and regulatory law. Rosemary appears regularly before the Workplace Relations Commission, the Labour Court and the civil courts. She is also frequently engaged to act as an independent investigator in workplace investigations. For the last number of years Rosemary has acted as Chairperson of the Investigation Committee for the Certified Public Accountants of Ireland.

  • Michelle Ní Longáin
    Michelle Ní Longáin Partner & Head of the Public Sector Group
    ByrneWallace LLP

    Michelle is a partner in the Employment Department of ByrneWallace LLP and is the firm's Compliance Partner. She is also Head of the firm’s Public Sector Group. She has extensive experience in employment, equality and administrative law. Michelle qualified as a solicitor in Northern Ireland, practising there in employment and equality law from 1994 before moving to England and Wales in 1996 and returning to Ireland in 1999 when she joined the firm. Michelle advises public and private sector clients, primarily employers, on complex areas of employment, equality and administrative law. 

Early Bird Offer

Save up to €50

Event details


13 & 14 October


13 October 2021




Early Bird Rate: €375
Standard Rate: €425
Early Bird Charity Rate/Small Business Rate: €325
Standard Charity/Small Business Rate: €375