Disability in an employment law context arises as one of the nine grounds of discrimination in Ireland, and is defined in section 2 of the Employment Equality Act 1998 as:

  • the total or partial absence of a person’s bodily or mental functions, including the absence of a part of a person’s body,
  • the presence in the body of organisms causing, or likely to cause, chronic disease or illness,
  • the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of a person’s body,
  • a condition or malfunction which results in a person learning differently from a person without the condition or malfunction, or
  • a condition, illness or disease which affects a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgement or which results in disturbed behaviour.

Employers should be aware that a wide range of issues may be construed as a disability, such as alcoholism, and that the treatment of employees with a particular affliction may result in a discrimination claim.