Case Number: DEC-E2012-005- Full Case Report. Equality Tribunal

CourtEquality Tribunal
Date01 January 2012
Docket NumberDEC-E2012-005- Full Case Report


Decision DEC - E2012-005


Joan Gallagher

Dun Laoghaire Vocational Education Committee
(represented by Irish Business and Employers Confederation)

File reference: EE/2007/138
Date of issue: 10th January 2012

Keywords: Employment Equality Acts, Family Status, Training, Promotion, Conditions of Employment, No prima facie case

1. Dispute

1.1 This dispute concerns a complaint by Joan Gallagher against Dun Laoghaire Vocational Education Committee. The complainant alleges that she was discriminated against on the grounds of family status in relation to access to promotion, conditions of employment and training contrary to the Employment Equality Acts 1998 -2008 [hereinafter referred to as 'the Acts'].

1.2 The complainant referred her complaint under the Act to the Director of the Equality Tribunal on 7th March 2007.
In accordance with his powers under Section 75 of the Act, the Director delegated the case on 15th November 2010 to me, Orlaith Mannion, an Equality Officer, for investigation, decision and for the exercise of other relevant functions under the Part VII of the Act. This is the date I commenced my investigation. Submissions were received from both parties and a Hearing was held on 8th September 2011 as required by Section 79 (1) of the Act. In reaching my decision I have taken into account all of the submissions, written and oral, made by the parties.

2. Summary of the complainants' case

2.1 Ms Gallagher began her employment as a teacher with the respondent in 1988. She was made permanent in 1992. In 1993, she was made permanent as Assistant Principal to manage the Secretarial Department. This role was expanded to include the setting up of the IT Teacher Training Course and to redevelop and manage the Business Studies Department. In 1996, she was asked by the former principal to set up a multimedia course - an area where she had limited experience. She did this while managing the IT Teacher Training course, teaching fourteen hours and managing the Secretarial Department and Business Studies Department. In February 1999, Ms Gallagher went on maternity leave. When she returned from maternity leave, she developed a Graduate Diploma in Multimedia Studies and she submits that she continued to work hard.

2.2 The complainant submits that discrimination on the grounds of family status began in September 2000, when Mr A was promoted to Deputy Principal.
In May 2001, while she was on maternity leave with her second child responsibility for the Business Studies Department was given to a woman with no children. She admits that the then Principal Mr B rang her to say they were restructuring management within the College and asked her opinion on giving the management of the Business Studies Department to Ms C. The complainant submits that she asked was there a problem with her management. According to Ms Gallagher, Mr B replied 'No, not at all but we think you have enough to do with the multimedia department, the new baby and your family. The complainant submits that she subsequently found out that the decision was already made.

2.3 In May 2002, the position of Assistant Principal/ Head of the IT Department became vacant.
Dun Laoghaire VEC disregarded their established practice of giving it to the most senior Assistant Principal. This custom was disregarded. According to Ms Gallagher, the position was filled without notifying her or the other Assistant Principals by transferring a less senior and less qualified Assistant Principal - Ms C. The role of Head of IT Department was seen as good for promotion - it also meant less teaching hours.

2.4 Ms Gallagher maintains that she was more qualified than the person who took over this role as Ms Gallagher has a Masters in Computer Applications for Education (First Class honours) as well the experience outlined above.
The complainant states that she had sixteen years teaching experience versus Ms C's eight years of teaching practice. Ms Gallagher had twelve years of diverse experience as an Assistant Principal against Ms C who had three years of experience in one Department.

2.5 Ms Gallagher submits that the Head of the IT Department was reclassified as 'Manager of the Blackrock Campus'.
The complainant submits that this made the position a Senior Management position. This allowed her to delegate the normal duties of a Department Head to Assistant Principals.

2.6 In May 2004, the position of Deputy Principal became vacant when Mr A became Principal.
The complainant applied for the position but did not obtain it. Ms Gallagher has no issue with this as she said the person who was appointed to the role was the best candidate.

2.7 However, she submits that around this time a quasi-Deputy Principal role was created for Ms C. Ms Gallagher

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