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Dublin employee receives €7,000 after homophobic graffiti was posted in his workplace

The Workplace Relations Commission found that the employer “had not taken the reasonably practicable steps to prevent harassment”.

The employee had previously taken another case against the company to the WRC.
The employee had previously taken another case against the company to the WRC.
Image: Shutterstock

A DUBLIN BASED company has been ordered to pay a worker €7,000 after graffiti appeared in his workplace with the “highly offensive and deplorable” word “faggot”. 

At the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), the worker, Ruffy Magat stated that the term is the most degrading term for a gay person. 

The man told the WRC hearing that there was ongoing harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace. 

Magat told his bosses of the “Ruffy faggot” graffiti on 24 August 2018 and it took a number of days for his bosses at Component Distributors (CD Ireland) Limited to have the graffiti removed. 

Magat had viewed the graffiti on 24 August and reported this immediately. He said that “it was removed by September 3rd”. 

He said that “this should have been cleaned off immediately”. 

The WRC has made the award after finding that Mr Magat was subject to discrimination and harassment in the workplace. 

It is the second €7,000 discrimination payout that Component Distributors (CD Ireland) Limited has been ordered to pay Mr Magat. 

The followed the WRC finding in April 2018 that Mr Magat was discriminated against on the grounds of race. 

This arose from an incident in January 2017 where an employee made comments to him in a Chinese-style ‘yingyingyandyang’ talk. 

The WRC found that the employer didn’t take sufficient action to deal with the incident. 

In relation to the August 2018 graffiti incident, WRC Adjudication Officer Kevin Baneham noted that, “while this incident related to the inscription of two words, one word is highly offensive and deplorable”. 

Baneham said in this case, “there is no doubt the words written on the shelf amounted to harassment” of Mr Magat. 

He said:

It refers to him by his first name. The graffiti uses the deeply offensive term “faggot”, a pejorative reference to sexual orientation. This clearly creates an intimidating and offensive environment.

The WRC found that the employer “had not taken the reasonably practicable steps to prevent harassment” and as of August 2018 it had not provided training to staff. 

The adjudication said: “Such training would have signalled to employees the seriousness the respondent takes tackling harassment.” 

Mr Baneham accepted that the employer sought to find out who had written the graffiti. 

He accepted that the notices regarding harassment and graffiti were posted in the workplace. 

A firm of solicitors delivered ‘Diversity – Dignity at work’ training to staff. The first session took place in October 2018 and a further session will take place in 2019. 

The firm stated that “on learning of the graffiti, the operations manager reported this immediately to the board of directors, who took it very seriously”. 

The firm stated that the operations manager apologised to Mr Magat and said that if they found who did the graffiti, they would be able to apply the policy. 

The firm stated that they looked through CCTV footage but the location was not covered by a camera. 

The operations manager outlined that he asked for the graffiti to be removed immediately after it being photographed. He was not sure when it was removed. 

The senior staff member said that the graffiti was unacceptable and should have been removed immediately. 

The firm outlined that the graffiti was deplorable and it could not, however, define the timeframe of when the graffiti was written. 

Employment law solicitor for Mr Magat, Richard Grogan stated: “Harassment and discrimination in our opinion is both odious and obnoxious. Harassment and discrimination have no place in any modern workplace. 

He said: “This is the second successful claim our client has taken against this employer. These are not cases any employee will take lightly.” 

Mr Grogan added: “This case was fully fought by the employer, as is their right, but we were very pleased to have been able to vindicate our client’s claim and to win this important case for him personally. The principle is far more important in this case than the monetary award for our client”. 

Mr Magat said: “I would like to thank my solicitors for their support in helping me bring this case which was very important personally for me in seeking my rights for a workplace free from discrimination and harassment.”

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Gordon Deegan

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