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Man who listed 'standing up against homosexuality' as achievement loses discrimination case

Mark Savage claimed he was told to remove the line from his CV.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/Devrim PINAR

A DUBLINER WHO said “homosexuality is an intrinsic disorder inclined towards evil” on his CV has lost a discrimination case.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has thrown out the discrimination case taken by Mark Savage against employment advisers Seetec Employment and Skills Ireland.

WRC Adjudication Officer Ian Barrett found that Savage did not prove primary facts of sufficient significance to raise the inference of discrimination.

Savage’s CV was submitted for a vacancy in a healthcare firm and in the ‘key achievements’ section, he wrote: “Standing up for and defending my religious beliefs which include that abortion on demand is evil and homosexuality is an intrinsic disorder inclined towards evil.”

Savage claimed, upon reading this, the employment adviser at Seetec said: ‘You can’t say that, employers are biased’, which is when Savage alleged the discrimination occurred.

Savage alleged he was discriminated against under Section 21 of the Equal Status Act by being treated less favourably than someone else would have been treated on the ground of religion, and by being treated unlawfully by being discriminated against in the provision of goods and services.

Seetec did not accept the employment adviser used these words, and submitted that the advice given was constructive in nature, made without partiality or bias and was solely job related.

Seetec told the hearing the adviser asked Savage why he had included the line and told him, as not all employers would share his views on abortion and homosexuality, this might influence their decision to invite him for interview.

Savage said it is immaterial if the comment by the adviser was only intended to advise him that the wording was detrimental to his prospects of getting an interview.

He stated he is proud of his achievements and being told that he could not include them on his CV “caused him emotional upset and distress”.

Marriage equality referendum 

At the hearing, Savage contended that if an individual with an LGBTQ+ background listed as a key achievement on their CV the fact they had campaigned for a Yes vote in the marriage equality referendum, or if someone with a disability stated that they had campaigned for improved services for wheelchair users, in all probability the employment adviser would not have cautioned such a person in the same way.

Savage believes that, notwithstanding the fact the adviser had a valid concern that the wording in the key achievements section of his CV would diminish his employment prospects, he would not say the same thing to someone else. Therefore he believed he was discriminated against because of his religious beliefs and that the adviser’s employer is vicariously liable.

An operations director for Seetec explained that it is the company’s function to advise clients on the format and content of their CV, to enhance their prospects of obtaining interviews and employment.

He stated that at no stage did the adviser ask Savage to remove the text or wording but proffered his opinion that the content would diminish his employment prospects.

Seetec told the hearing its employees do not make judgements regarding the views or beliefs of any of its clients, saying they are respected. However, they would be negligent in their duties if they did not provide professional opinion or advice to enhance their client’s prospects of gaining employment.

Impartial 

Seetec stated that they were unaware of Savage’s religious beliefs and they were of no relevance to the service they provided, saying the adviser had acted impartially and was not biased in any way.

Seetec said the evidence shows that the wording used on Savage’s CV goes beyond an expression of his religious beliefs. Furthermore they alleged that at a review meeting between Savage and the adviser in December 2016, Savage expressed his opinion that homosexuality is an intrinsic disorder inclined towards evil and gay people are “an abomination of nature”.

Seetec concluded by saying that Savage was unable to make a prima facie case that discrimination took place and did not link any of the points he raised to the alleged religious discrimination.

In his ruling, Barrett stated the evidence did not support the contention that Savage was treated differently or less favourably on the grounds of religion, and as Savage did not discharge the initial probative burden which he bears his case could not succeed.

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Gordon Deegan

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