Equality For Fathers In Ireland

Equality For Fathers

Equality Tribunal cases of separated parents

The Equality Tribunal is an excellent forum for addressing complaints of separated parents who feel they have been discriminated against due to their marital status, gender or family status. Examples of cases are listed below. It is important to note that although only two of these cases taken by fathers were successful, all of them could have been won had it not been for technical reasons such as the Notification being submitted outside the time limit of two months  or all issues of discrimination not being included in the Notification. 

DEC-S2004-86

This dispute concerns a complaint by the mother that she was less favourably treated by a Local Authority, on the grounds of her marital status, when she was required to swear an affidavit in relation to her marital status and means when her son's application for a Higher Education Grant was being considered.

Read full case HERE.

DEC-S2006-030

This case involved psychological assessments on a child carried out without the consent of the father. As the incidents referred to by the complainant, involving the HSE, himself and his son, all occurred in the 1990s prior to the Equal Status Act 2000 coming into force, the incidents concerned could not be dealt with retrospectively under the Equal Status Acts.

Read full case HERE.

DEC-S2008-111

This case was in relation to the failure of the HSE to obtain the consent of a father to his daughter’s medical care but where he failed to notify the respondent within the required time limits set out in section 21(2) of Acts.

Read full case HERE.

DEC-S2009-040

This case was in relation to a father who claimed that a school had adopted an unlawful policy with regard to the procedure it had put place for the arrangement of parent/teacher meetings for separated parents. He claimed that this discriminated against him as a separated father. He maintained that the policy excludes non-custodial parents from their position as joint legal guardians of their children. He also raised a number of other issues but as he had not included these in the original notification (required before a complaint can be made) the Equality Tribunal had no jurisdiction over these matters.

Read full case HERE

 DEC-S2010-045

This case involved a father claiming that a school discriminated against him by ignoring his request that his son repeat 6th class. The hearing occurred almost two years after the discrimination allegedly occurred and the father unfortunately failed to appear most likely as the point was, by that stage, moot but the case was obviously quite likely to succeed.

Read full case HERE. 

DEC-S2010-046

This case was in relation to a complaint by a father that he was discriminated against by a hospital that treated him less favourably by failing to obtain his consent in operating on his daughter and in requesting him to go through a solicitor in order to obtain information relating to his daughter. He was awarded €2,000 for the request to use a solicitor but his complaint on consent failed as he had not complained of “indirect” discrimination on the grounds of gender and so the Equality Officer had no jurisdiction to consider this.

 Read full case HERE and report HERE.

DEC-S2010-049

This dispute concerns a complaint by a father that he was discriminated against on the gender, marital status and family status grounds by a Community School in not being provided with information and documentation he had sought with regard to his children's' progress in school. He was awarded €5,000.  

Read full case HERE.

Read reports HEREHERE and HERE.

 

DEC-S2012-003

The dispute concerns a complaint of unlawful discrimination on the gender and/or civil status ground(s). The complainant submitted that a national school  discriminated against him by not replying to his queries, allowed his child to be removed from the school contrary to the school's own policy, and by allowing his child to be enrolled in circumstances where his details were omitted from an enrolment form. Further issues concerning policy were also raised.

Read full case  HERE.

DEC-S2013-003

This dispute concerns a claim by a separated father that he was discriminated against by a creche on the grounds of gender, marital status and family status by its refusal to provide access, refusal to provide records, refusal to communicate and rudeness to him, the father of two children enrolled in the creche. The complainant also claims victimisation by the creche by their continued refusal to provide records after he commenced these proceedings.

The Equality Tribunal decision defined Guardianship as follows: If a child is born to parents who are married to each other, the child's biological parents are automatically deemed to be the guardians. This is in line with constitutional requirements, a husband and wife being jointly and equally entitled to make decisions on the child's behalf. They have joint and equal responsibilities and entitlements in respect of the child. Guardianship rights and responsibilities are inalienable. Once a child is born to parents who are married to each other, the parents each continue to be guardians of the child even if they subsequently separate or divorce. Guardianship rights of a married father cannot be removed by a court.1B.v. B. [1975] I.R. 54

 The Equality Tribunal decision explained Guardianship as follows: Guardianship encompasses the duty to maintain and properly care for a child and the right to make decisions about a child's religious and secular education, health requirements and general welfare. The right to custody of a child is one of the rights that arises under the guardianship relationship"2Shatter Family Law (4th ed.) 531 (this definition was adopted by Finlay Geoghegan J. in R.C. v. I.S. [2003] 4 I.R. 431)

Read full case HERE. 

DEC - S2013 -009

This case concerns a claim by a separated father of two children that he was discriminated against on the gender, marital status (now civil status), family status, religion, and race and victimisation grounds in relation to the provision of a service by the respondent in that the respondent refused to give him information about his children.
 
Read full case HERE and report HERE.

DEC - S2013 - 010 

This case concerns a complaint by an unmarried father that he was discriminated against by the Community Welfare Service on the combined grounds of gender, civil status (formerly marital status) and family status when seeking rent allowance for accommodation for himself and his children.

 

Read full case HERE and report HERE.

 

DEC-S2014-018

In this dispute, a father said that his daughter was enrolled in a school without his knowledge or consent by his estranged wife and he initiated a complaint to the Equality Tribunal. However this matter was resolved at mediation and the case was withdrawn from the Tribunal.

However, on the 23rd of May 2013, he said that he received an email from the school informing him that the school sports were scheduled to take place on the 24th of May 2013. He submitted that he got very late notification of the event compared to other parents and this was a pattern of the school not to inform him in good time of school events.

The Equality Officer ordered the school to pay to the father €4,000 to compensate him for the anxiety and distress he experience as a consequence of the discriminatory treatment and victimisation.

Read full case HERE and article HERE.

Reasons to avoid mediating Equal Status cases. 

Although it might seem like an easy, inexpensive option, mediating an Equal Status complaint will prevent the outcome becoming public and so others cannot learn from the case. Also, an award of up to €6,348.69 can be granted in the case of a successful complaint whereas a case settled during mediation will simply result in the service being provided and no compensation for the discrimination suffered. See http://www.mercylaw.ie/services/case-studies.138.html The case remains confidential.  

Case Study 3

 A separated father with joint custody, access and guardianship rights in respect of his two teenage daughters was refused eligibility for 2 bedroom accommodation by a Local Authority as it was their policy to only award separated fathers bedsit accommodation. Proceedings were instituted before the Equality Tribunal alleging discrimination on the grounds of gender, civil status and marital status.  The matter was fully resolved before hearing and the Tribunal investigation did not then proceed.