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Dublin: 12 °C Saturday 1 November, 2014

€24,000 payment for sexual orientation discrimination at Credit Union

GLEN, the Gay & Lesbian Equality network, has welcomed the news.

THE EQUALITY TRIBUNAL has ordered that a man who was discriminated against because of his sexual orientation and victimised while a Credit Union employee be paid €24,000.

The man said that he had started working for the business in 2008 and went on to detail the events that led him to taking his case to the Equality Tribunal.

Some of his complaint involved comments made by colleagues about why he was employed, comments about his ‘camp’ accent and sex life, and an overheard conversation about his sexual orientation. All of the respondent (a Credit Union)’s witnesses denied there was a homophobic atmosphere in the office and denied making comments about his sexual orientation or hearing any such comments.

The full details of the case are on the Equality Tribunal website.

The Equality Officer, Gary O’Doherty, found that the Credit Union in question discriminated against the complainant on the sexual orientation ground and that he was also victimised. He order the respondent to pay €8,000 in respect of the discrimination and an additional €16,000 in respect of the victimisation.

He noted:

The award I am making with respect to the discrimination is the approximate equivalent of three months salary in that respect and, as it is made to compensate the complainant for the distress caused to him as a result of the discrimination by the respondent, it is not in the nature of pay.
The award I am making with respect to the victimisation is the approximate equivalent of six months salary in that respect and, as it is made to compensate the complainant for the distress caused to him as a result of the victimisation by the respondent, it is not in the nature of pay.

Decision

The decision was welcomed by Davin Roche, Director of Workplace Diversity, at GLEN, Gay and Lesbian Equality Network. He said:

The Equality Tribunal’s decision is a sharp reminder to all employers of their duty to protect staff from discrimination and that this duty also extends to protecting staff who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender from harassment in their workplaces.

Roche noted that there are over 100,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the workforce and that Irish research has found that one quarter of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees surveyed “had experienced verbal harassment on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity at some point in their careers”.

Roche said that: “Clearly, it’s better for employers and employees to ensure that their workplaces are free from harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the first place.”

He added that employers should ensure that there is an effective harassment policy in place, that it is communicated properly to staff and implemented properly. “Equally, colleagues can play a role by challenging discriminatory comments or banter immediately if they arise in the workplace,” he concluded.

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