Case Number: DEC-E2012-022- Full Case Report. Equality Tribunal

CourtEquality Tribunal
Date28 February 2012
Docket NumberDEC-E2012-022- Full Case Report
The Equality Tribunal

Employment Equality Acts


NO: DEC-E2012-022


Ms A
(Represented by Employment Advice and Representation Unit)

- V -

A Public House
And Mr B, owner of A Public House
Represented by Seamus Maguire Solicitors

File references: EE/2008/667
Date of issue: 28 February 2012

Employment Equality Acts 1998-2011 -Discriminatory Dismissal- Harassment - Sexual Harassment - Gender

1. Dispute

1.1. This dispute concerns a claim by Ms A (hereafter "the complainant") that she was harassed, sexually harassed and discriminatorily dismissed on the grounds of gender by A Public House (hereafter "the respondent") contrary to the Employment Equality Acts.

2. Background

2.1. The complainant referred her claim to the Director of the Equality Tribunal on 8 October 2008 under the Employment Equality Acts. This was two months outside the 6 month time limit for referral of the complaint. The complainant applied for an extension of time to the Director, who directed that, in relation to this complaint, paragraph (a) of Section 77(5) shall have effect as if for the reference of a period of 6 months there substituted a reference to 12 months.

This claim was made on the gender ground. On 2 August 2011, in accordance with his powers under section 75 of the Acts, the Director then delegated these cases to me, Elaine Cassidy - 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 which date my investigation commenced. As required by Section 79(1) and as part of my investigation, an oral hearing was held 7 December 2011 and both parties were in attendance.

3. Case for the complainant

3.1 The complainant's legal representative withdrew the claim of discriminatory dismissal during the hearing on the basis that the matter had previously been settled at the EAT.

3.2 The complainant submitted that she worked for the respondent as a part-time kitchen assistant for about 16 years.
Prior to the incidents referred to in this complaint, there were no problems in her working relationship.

3.3 On 6th February 2008, the complainant attended a Christmas party organised by the manager of the respondent pub.
The party was held after Christmas due to the nature of the respondent business and the complainant submitted that there had been a few of these parties in previous years. Most of the respondent staff were in attendance and she believed it was paid for by the respondent. The party began at the respondent's own licensed premises and then all the staff were collected by bus to take them to another pub for a meal and drinks. The meal was paid for, and the respondent manager gave all the staff a number of drink tokens for the rest of the evening. The complainant brought one of her friends, a non-employee of the respondent, as her guest.

3.4 The complainant submitted that it was a good party, but later in the night, she was harassed by D who was the brother-in-law of the respondent manager.
D had joined them later in the night for a few drinks and he had sat with the complainant and her friend. The complainant submitted that D had been engaged in "dirty talk" with her friend and that he had called them "two rides". The complainant was offended and told her manager that she expected to get more respect. Her manager was annoyed with her and told her to "fxx off out of here" if she did not like what she heard. The complainant understood this to mean that she should leave the party.

3.5 The following day, February 7th, the complainant attended for work as normal, but did not speak to the manager as he was off that day.
She told the chef that she expected an apology from her manager. The chef said he would pass on the message. On the 8th February the complainant had a day off. She received a call from the chef who told her that the manager said she was sacked. She asked him to put this in writing and she said that she would go to speak to the owner of the pub about it. About a week later, the chef rang and told her not to come to see the owner. She had no contact with her employer, other than these two calls with the chef. She received her P45 upon her request and it was dated 22 February 2008. She did not know why this particular date was chosen.

3.6 The complainant submitted that the impact of losing her job after all these years was very severe on her.
She suffered palpitations, panic attacks and ultimately had to be admitted to a psychiatric ward for 6 months.

3.7 The legal representative for the complainant stated that the complainant's health had been severely impacted by losing her job, to the extent that she was unlikely to be able to work in the future.
He submitted that she had been subjected to harassing comments of a sexual nature, which were gender-specific. He submitted that some people might have been able to laugh off these comments, but in the complainant's case, they caused her "to crack".

4. Case for the respondent Witness for the respondent - Owner of business

4.1 The owner refuted that the complainant had been employed by him for 16 years. He stated that he had bought the business 3 years previously and all the staff were paid redundancy by the previous owner. He re-employed the staff. The pub employed about 20 people at the time and the business was run by a named manager. The owner stated that he runs a number of businesses and has no day-to-day involvement with the running of the pub - this is entirely the responsibility of the manager.

4.2 Prior to the incidents referred to in this case, there were never any problems with the complainant.
Both she and her sister had worked there for years. The owner stated that he had already settled this matter with the complainant and was shocked to have to deal with it again.

4.3 The owner stated that the "Christmas party" in question had nothing to do with him.
He did not know about it, approve it or provide funds for it. He stated that he has a policy of not allowing Christmas parties in his businesses and pays Christmas bonuses instead. He believed that the money was raised by the pub manager through a raffle of some sort.

Witness for the respondent -Manager of the pub

4.4 The manager submitted that he had been the...

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