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Lithuanian woman awarded €34k in Mayo discrimination claim

The woman claimed she was discriminated against by her employer after being racially abused by a customer.
Jan 20th 2014, 9:33 AM 29,519 99

A WOMAN HAS been awarded €34,000 in damages by the Equality Tribunal after a claim that her employer discriminated against her on race grounds during the time she worked in their Supermac’s and Costcutters in Mayo.

The woman is a Lithuanian national who was employed by the company from January 2009 to June 2010.

She was at first working in a Supermac’s franchise in Ballindine and was then moved to the local Costcutter, also owned by the business. In one incident, a female customer asked about the price of sweets. The complainant said that she told her that they were €2.99 and the customer said “f****** Polish why are they working here they don’t understand English?”.

The woman claims the same customer returned on another occasion and shouted at the employee in a language she presumed was Gaelic and became aggressive with her. On her way home from work she reported the incident to gardaí who contacted the customer but she denied she had been racially abusive and the employee decided not to make a formal complaint.

The following day, she was called into a meeting by her employer who asked why she had not reported it to him first.

“He told her that the customer was a very nice woman and she would not talk like that,” the complaint explains. “He said that he believed that the customer would not come back to the shop and he would lose in the region of €72 a week as a consequence of her actions.”


She was told that she was being moved to work in Supermac’s in Ballinrobe, which is much further from her home. The Lithuanian woman is a single parent of a young child and she told her employer it would cost her more in petrol. She said she was told that he “did not want to see her in the shop anymore as she would destroy his business”.

The woman made the move to the Supermac’s but said her employer attended there frequently and she believed that she was being monitored. On her first day she was moved off the til and was forced to work in the kitchen on the grill fulltime, even though she had not been trained for this. She claimed her employer and his brother were “constantly watching her”.

She was given less hours and she became stressed about her job as she was given more menial jobs and was the only employee working fulltime in the kitchen. After about two weeks, she resigned.

New job

A couple of weeks into a new job at a pub, the owner asked the woman she had worked in the respondent’s business in Ballindine and she said she had. The next day she received a text from her new employer to tell her he no longer had hours for her.

Responding to the woman’s complaint, her employer denied discriminating against her and that she was racially abused by a customer. He also said that the decision to move her onto the grill at the Supermac’s was because of complaints made about her being rude to customers.

However in the equality officer’s decision, she found that the employer did discriminate against the woman on race grounds and that the woman was victimised on race grounds.

She was awarded €14,000 in compensation for the distress caused by discrimination and constructive dismissal and €20,000 for the distress caused by victimisation.

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Michelle Hennessy


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