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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 18 February, 2020

Employee awarded €8,000 after colleague linked homosexuality to child abuse

The harassment occurred over a six-month period.

The company involved is a group of retail shops and service stations.
The company involved is a group of retail shops and service stations.
Image: Shutterstock

AN EMPLOYEE OF an Irish retailer has been awarded €8,000 in compensation following six months of discrimination about her sexual orientation.

The unnamed company refuted all the claims made by the complainant but an inquiry by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) found that she was the victim of sexual harassment.

The woman was a sales assistant at the store and complained of a number of incidents of harassment by another colleague, named Mr A in the WRC report.

The report states that the employee was a lesbian and that Mr A made at least four separate comments insulting her sexuality.

Among them were comments saying she was “not a normal person”, asking her “why she didn’t want men”, attributing mental health issues to gay people and linking the origin of homosexuality to child abuse.

The WRC report states that the employee complained about the behaviour but was not satisfied with a subsequent investigation:

The complainant was advised from the outset of the investigation that the alleged perpetrator would not be fired but may be advised of a final written warning in respect of his behaviour towards her. She was dissatisfied with the investigation, which upheld two of the complaints as she felt pressurised to come up with dates which were then not sought from the alleged perpetrator. She felt that she wasn’t believed.

The WRC found that the company did not discriminate against the complainant in allegedly reducing her hours of work, but it found that she was discriminated against and that efforts to stop this “led to the complainants hurt and humiliation”.

“I found evidence of a workplace culture where casual talk on highly personal and sensitive issues was permitted without redirection,” the report’s author states.

“I also found evidence of a sub plot of multicultural uncertainties, where boundaries were perceived as being breached without reportage or intervention. This is a workforce that needs careful management, tolerance and support going forward.”

The complainant no longer works with the company.

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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