Your equality rights in Northern Ireland

There are laws to protect you from being unfairly treated because of the following reasons: race, age, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender. 


Equality law in NI today

Northern Ireland’s equality laws can protect people from some forms of discrimination at work – when looking for work and while at work. 

If you believe that you have experienced discrimination at work, or when seeking work, on account of your: age, sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, religious or similar philosophical belief or political opinion, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity, marriage or civil partnership status.

Everyone who lives or works in Northern Ireland, regardless of whether or not they were born here, has rights under our equality laws.


Discrimination means being treated less favourably than other people or being harassed on any the grounds protected under equality law. Discrimination can also occur when employers fail to comply with their duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people.

It can happen as a result of prejudice or a negative attitude towards a person or a group. Even if it’s unintentional, it can still be discrimination.

The law also protects you from being victimised – that is, if you suffer further discrimination as a result of making a discrimination complaint.

In every case, it will be up to the Tribunal or court to decide whether what you’ve experienced is unlawful discrimination or not.

Discrimination at work can include:

  • Recruitment issues, for example, failure to appoint, failure to shortlist.
  • Harassment e.g. being subjected to offensive comments or physical assault.
  • Terms and conditions, for example, requests for flexible working.
  • Redundancy.
  • Dismissal.
  • Pregnancy and maternity.
  • Equal pay.
  • Sick absence/medical.
  • Pensions.
  • Retirement, for example, it may be unlawful to be forced to retire at age 65.
  • Work/life balance.
  • Reasonable adjustment.
  • Victimisation.
Back to top