Daft withdraws appeal against finding of discrimination in property ads

IHREC complained over listings on website citing work, age and family status requirements

A rights body complained to the Workplace Relations Commission about property rental ads on Daft.ie including terms such as ‘rent allowance not accepted’, ‘suit family or professionals only’, and ‘would suit young professionals’.

A rights body complained to the Workplace Relations Commission about property rental ads on Daft.ie including terms such as ‘rent allowance not accepted’, ‘suit family or professionals only’, and ‘would suit young professionals’.

 

Property website Daft.ie has agreed to withdraw an appeal it made against a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) decision which found adverts it hosted breached anti-discrimination laws, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has said.

The WRC’s 2019 finding followed a complaint by IHREC that ads on the website included terms such as “rent allowance not accepted”, “suit family or professionals only”, and “would suit young professionals”.

The WRC found the postings breached sections of the equal status acts in that they discriminated on the basis of age, employment status and against those in receipt of housing assistance.

Daft.ie initiated an appeal of the decision nearly two years ago but has now reached an agreement with IHREC “to expand and develop practical methods to identify, investigate, review and take down discriminatory advertising on the Daft.ie website”, according to a statement published by IHREC.

“Daft has also committed to reviewing and, where necessary, improving the system on a continuous basis.”

Asked to comment on the decision to withdraw the appeal and the plans for reviewing the website, a Daft spokeswoman said the company was “not in a position to comment at this time”.

Dispense requirement

IHREC said the agreement would “dispense with the requirement for recourse to the courts in this appeal” while also helping to improve compliance with Ireland’s equality law.

Sinéad Gibney, IHREC chief commissioner, welcomed the resolution of “this long-standing litigation”. The commission initially took proceedings in 2016 after identifying a number of of adverts that discriminated on the housing, age and family status grounds of the equal status acts, she said.

“The procedures that Daft will operate must help to ensure that discriminatory advertising does not appear on the website of one of Ireland’s leading property advertisers,” said Ms Gibney.

‘Mere conduit’

The 2019 case was seen as significant as Daft relied on an argument that it was an information society service provider and acted as a “mere conduit” for the ads, and therefore could not be held responsible for them.

The website, founded by brothers Brian and Eamon Fallon in 2001, also pointed to a series of policy changes it had introduced since the original complaint was made which sought to tighten up on ads using potentially discriminatory language.

However, the WRC found that Daft had “vicarious liability” for the content posted on its site. It ruled that the website must refrain from publishing or displaying, or permitting publishing or displaying, anything that “indicates an intention to engage in prohibited conduct”.

It also found that Daft must “develop a methodology to identify, monitor and block discriminatory advertising on its website”.