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Receptionist wins €63k for victimisation and reduced hours after maternity leave

In a separate case, the HSE was found not to have discriminated against a young man with a number of health issues.

Image: ell brown via Flickr/Creative Commons

A RECEPTIONIST HAS been awarded €63,000 at the Equality Tribunal after it was found that she had been discriminated against upon returning from maternity leave, and victimised once she complained.

It was alleged that the manager working with Travelodge Management Ltd, trading as Travelodge Waterford, reduced her hours, accused her of not having sufficient English to work the job, and also claimed she had been selling alcohol to non-residents.

The company did not make a written submission to the Tribunal.

The woman, Sylwia Wach, said that despite being on a 24 hour-per-week contract, she had worked full-time for the previous three years.

During her six months of maternity leave, the manager brought in an extra worker, and reduced Wach’s hours when she returned to work.

After her manager discovered she had made a formal complaint to HR, it is claimed that he threatened to look back through CCTV footage to any possible wrongdoing.

The judgement read:

The complainant was called into a disciplinary meeting with her manager, where he raised an allegation that the complainant had been selling alcohol to non-residents.
This was not pursued further since the manager was unable to adduce any evidence that the persons the complainant sold the alcohol to were indeed not guests of the hotel.

The manager’s actions were deemed to be consist with victimisation, and she was awarded €42,000.

Wach’s manager also raised issue with the woman’s standard of English, despite no complaints being made by customers. The Equality Officer also found her to be fluent in written and spoken English.

This, combined with her reduced hours, resulted in a judgement of discrimination on the grounds of race and gender.

She was awarded €21,000 for this.

“Tragic”

Another case, described as “tragic” and “very emotive” by the Equality Officer, was taken against the HSE over an alleged discrimination against a young man with a number of health issues.

The man’s mother claimed that the HSE had discriminated against him by not providing appropriate private transport to allow him to travel to a training course.

He required medical staff to accompany him, as certain drugs had to be administered if he had a seizure.

However, there was no evidence to support that any discrimination took place, and arrangements were later made to provide a trained care worker to travel with him to work and from work on public transport.

Regarding a claim of ongoing discrimination, Eqality Officer Valerie Murtagh also found that the HSE “extensively engaged with the complainant’s mother in relation to the provision of services and supports for her son” while battling cutbacks instigated in 2008.

“I am satisfied that the cutbacks [...] affected all clients of the HSE including persons with disabilities and that the complainant was not singled out for adverse treatment in this regard,” she said.

Read: Born-again Christian council worker wins €70,000 in discrimination case >

More: Lecturer awarded €80,000 in discrimination case against NUI Galway>

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Nicky Ryan

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