Case Number: DEC-E2012-014- Full Case Report. Equality Tribunal

CourtEquality Tribunal
Date01 February 2012
Docket NumberDEC-E2012-014- Full Case Report


Decision DEC - E2012 - 014


Ms Philomena Duffy and Ms Eileen Halpin (represented by Mandate)


Dunnes Stores Ltd (represented by Byrne Wallace Solicitors)

File References: EE/2009/407 & EE/2009/480
Date of Issue: 6th February 2012

1. Claim

1.1. The case concerns a claim by Ms Philomena Duffy and Ms Eileen Halpin that Dunnes Stores Ltd discriminated against them on the ground of age (Ms Duffy), respectively age and disability (Ms Halpin) contrary to Sections 6(2)(f) and (g) of the Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2011, in terms of access to redundancy packages, respectively discriminatory dismissal (Ms Halpin).

Ms Duffy referred a complaint under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2008 to the Director of the Equality Tribunal on 23 January 2009. Ms Halpin did so on 15 July 2009. A submission was received from Ms Duffy on 8 December 2009 and from Ms Halpin on 23 December 2009. Submissions in respect of both complaints were received from the respondent on 9 September 2010. On 19 October 2011, in accordance with his powers under S. 75 of the Acts, the Director delegated the cases to me, Stephen Bonnlander, an Equality Officer, for investigation, hearing and decision and for the exercise of other relevant functions of the Director under Part VII of the Acts. On this date my investigation commenced. As required by Section 79(1) of the Acts and as part of my investigation, I proceeded to hold a joint hearing of the cases on 11 January 2012. Additional evidence was requested from the respondent at the hearing of the complaint and received on 18 January 2012.

2. Summary of the Complainants' Written Submissions

2.1. Ms Duffy submits that she had been employed with the respondent for over 29 years, working as a sales assistant in one of the respondent's stores in North Dublin. When the respondent offered a redundancy package in early 2009, Ms Duffy applied for it and was initially told she had been accepted. This offer was later withdrawn, and no reasons were given to Ms Duffy. As approximately 15-18 staff from this particular store were offered redundancy by the respondent, and all staff were under 65 years of age, whereas the complainant was 65 years old at the time, she contends that she was discriminated against on the ground of her age.

3. Summary of the Respondent's Written Submission

3.1. The respondent denies discriminating against the complainants as alleged or at all. Both complainants received one-year fixed terms contracts once they had reached the normal retirement age of 65. Both were on such contracts at the material time, although the respondent could only produce a copy of Ms Duffy's contract with her signature, whereas the contract of Ms Halpin was signed only by her manager. With regard to Ms Duffy application for the retirement package, it is denied that she was told she was accepted for the package and that the offer was later withdrawn.

The respondent submits that the offer was oversubscribed and that choices had to be made. In particular, the respondent denies age discrimination in that two staff members aged 61 and 64, who worked in the same store as the complainants, were offered the package.

4. Conclusions of the Equality Officer

4.1. The issues for...

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