Gender EqualityThe Equality Authority has welcomed two significant gender equality decisions from the Equality Tribunal and the Labour Court. 'Gender discrimination particularly in the area of pregnancy, continues to be a source of concern to us after thirty two years of gender protection equality legislation' said Renee Dempsey, CEO of the Equality Authority.
'It is important during stringent economic times that women and pregnant workers are not subjected to unfair treatment, harassment or dismissal because of their gender or pregnancy. Harassment is the enemy of productivity and affects not only those who suffer this discrimination but all who are required to work in a harassment filled environment' continued Ms Dempsey.
'It is also essential that the standards of equal treatment achieved to date be improved for women workers. Good treatment is an essential benchmark in the productive Irish workplace. We need to ensure that we retain and enable the contribution women workers have and will continue to make, to productivity and economic recovery by eradicating harassment, discrimination and unequal treatment for women and all workers' concluded Ms Dempsey.
Cruise v Nail Zone Ltd. DEC-E2009-091 (The Equality Tribunal)
Employment Equality Acts 1998 - 2008
Ground: Gender Discrimination, Harassment, Discriminatory Dismissal
Ms Cruise started work as a nail technician with the Nail Zone in February 2005. She stated that her working relationship with her employers was good but changed after she notified them of her pregnancy in December 2005. They switched her day off so that it coincided with her ante-natal appointments and contacted her doctor directly to query her medical certificate. They also changed the established method of calculating her pay and annual leave.
The Equality Officer found that the company had discriminated against Ms Cruise on the ground of gender and awarded the sum of €10,000 as compensation for the distress suffered by her. He also ordered the company to introduce a policy on harassment and a grievance procedure and to circulate them to staff within four months. The claim for constructive dismissal was not upheld.
Zena Boyle -v- Ely Property Group Ltd (EDA0920)
The Labour Court
This is an appeal by the employer from an Equality Tribunal decision in which Ms Boyle alleged discrimination on the gender ground in respect of her conditions of employment, harassment and discriminatory dismissal.
The Complainant was employed by the Respondent in her capacity as a Housing Manager on 25th August 2005. She was dismissed without notice on 4th November 2005.
The Complainant was employed as manager of a student accommodation complex in Donegal. It is the Complainant’s case that she was subjected to aggressive humiliating and offensive treatment by her immediate manager and that this treatment constituted harassment within the meaning of the Act. The Complainant further alleges that offensive graffiti relating to her was placed on a wall of the complex and that this amounted to discrimination within the meaning of Section 14A of the Act. The Complainant contends that the Respondent took no steps, or no adequate steps, to prevent the discrimination. Finally the Complainant contends that she was dismissed from her employment when the Respondent decided to replace her with a male employee.
The Labour Court heard the case on the 15th September 2009 and issued their decision on 15th October 2009 wherein they disallowed the appeal of the Ely Property Group Ltd in full confirming the decision of the Equality Officer in favour of Ms Zena Boyle in its entirety.
The compensation awarded by the Equality Officer in the Equality Tribunal was €30,000. The Equality Officer also made an order that a Code of Practice under harassment, covering all nine grounds is to be brought to the attention of all staff within 3 months. The Respondent must also arrange training on their operation of the Code of Practice for all employees with staff management functions in the organisation.