284. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the inequality of car rental companies seeking a doctor's note when leasing a car to a person over 75 years of age (details supplied); his views on whether this practice is age discrimination on behalf of the companies involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7378/18]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): Ireland has comprehensive and robust equality legislation in place – namely the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 and the Equal Status Acts 2000-2015 – which prohibits discrimination on ten specific grounds – Age; Gender; Sexual orientation; Civil status; Family status; Religious belief; Disability; Race, colour nationality, ethnic or national origins; Membership of the Travelling Community; and being in receipt of housing assistance. The legislation is designed to promote equality and prohibit discrimination (direct, indirect and by association) and victimisation; it also allows for positive measures to ensure equality across the ten grounds.
The Equal Status Acts 2000-2015 outlaw discrimination outside the workplace, in particular in the provision of goods and services, selling, renting or leasing property and certain aspects of education. Equality legislation also provides for remedies for those who have suffered discrimination.
There have been successfully negotiated changes to existing practices under the Equal Status Acts. As a result, car hire firms agreed to the following changes to the pre-2009 terms and conditions:
1. a blanket ban on drivers over 75 years of age was removed;
2. the automatic daily surcharge for drivers over 70 years of age was abolished;
3. a safety assessment form was introduced. This form takes due and proper account of individual drivers’ health, driving experience and existing motor insurance policy, as well as a requirement that a doctor's letter be provided, certifying that the person is in good health.
As the Deputy is aware the regulation of motor insurance and road traffic matters are complex. There is, for example, a minimum age set before one can hold a driving licence and if a person is over the age of 70, they will need certification of fitness to drive by their doctor in order to apply for a driving licence.
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) is Ireland’s national equality body and deals with a range of EU anti-discrimination measures and it is also Ireland's human rights institution. The IHREC is independent in the discharge of its functions, which include: the protection and promotion of human rights and equality and the provision of information to the public in relation to the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 and the Equal Status Acts 2000-2015. It has powers of investigation and can provide advice and assistance to persons who consider that they have experienced discrimination. It is open to any person to make contact with the Commission to inquire as to what advice and assistance may be available in their particular circumstance. IHREC can refer a case of perceived discrimination to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) for investigation and adjudication.
The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) (formerly the Equality Tribunal) would be the appropriate avenue to adjudicate or mediate claims of unlawful discrimination under equality legislation.
It is open to a person who wishes to challenge practices which are perceived as unlawful discrimination to take a case to the WRC: https://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/Complaints_Disputes/Refer_a_Dispute_Make_a_Complaint/How_to_Make_a_Complaint_Refer_a_Dispute.html