Case Number: DEC-E2016-023. Workplace Relations Commission

CourtWorkplace Relations Commission
Judgment Date01 February 2016
Docket NumberDEC-E2016-023
PartiesSzymon Paczkowski -V- Permanent TSB PLC
EMPLOYMENT EQUALITY ACTS DECISION NO. DEC-E2016-023 PARTIES Szymon Paczkowski (Represented by Rostra Solicitors) AND Permanent TSB PLC (Represented by A & L Goodbody Solicitors) File reference: EE/2014/426 & et-153235-ee-15 Date of issue: 5th February 2016

HEADNOTES: Employment Equality Acts – Sections 6 - Gender and Race

Promotion – Training - Victimisation


1.1. This dispute concerns a claim by the complainant that he was discriminated against by the respondent on the grounds of Gender and Race contrary to section 6 (2) of the Employment Equality Acts in relation to discriminatory dismissal in terms of section 8 of the Acts.

1.2. The complainant referred claims to the Director of the Equality Tribunal on 1 August 2014 and 28 January 2015 under the Employment Equality Acts. On 29 October 2015, in accordance with his powers under section 75 of the Employment Equality Acts, the Director General of the WRC, delegated the case to me, Roger McGrath, an Equality Officer for investigation, hearing and decision and for the exercise of other relevant functions of the Director (General) under Part VII of the Acts, on which date my investigation commenced. Submissions were received from both sides. In accordance with Section 79(1) of the Employment Equality Acts and as part of my investigation I proceeded to a hearing on 9 November 2015. Final information was received on 14 January 2016.

1.3. At the hearing both parties had legal representation.

1.4. This decision is issued by me following the establishment of the Workplace Relations Commission on 1 October 2015, as an Adjudication Officer who was an Equality Officer prior to 1 October 2015, in accordance with section 83 (3) of the Workplace Relations Act 2015.

2. Summary of the Complainant's Case

2.1 In the Complaint Form, received by the Equality Tribunal on 28 January 2015, the complainant alleges that his employer, the respondent, discriminated against him on grounds of race and gender. He also alleges that the respondent treated him unlawfully by dismissing him for discriminatory reasons and because he opposed discrimination. He outlines in his complaint that after raising a grievance related to race and gender he was frequently verbally offended by his manager who suggested that he look for a new job, that the respondent's actions put him under pressure and exposed him to stress. He says that he had no other option than to resign from his employment, which he did on 1st December 2015.

2.2 It should be noted that the complainant had previously submitted a Complaint Form which was received by the Workplace Relations Customer Service on 1 August 2014. This complaint referred to discrimination by reason of Gender and Race in relation to promotion, training and victimisation. This Complaint Form stated that the most recent date of discrimination was 1 April 2014. At the hearing on 9th November, the respondent stated that the only matters stipulated in the later Complaint Form were under consideration, the matters complained of in the first Complaint were withdrawn. Issues in the written submission, predating the promotion interview, were tendered as background information.

2.3 In a written submission the complainant states that he was employed by the respondent from May 2012, where he worked in the Customer Credit Department as an analyst. In 2014 he applied for a position of senior analyst, but did not get the promotion because of unfair, discriminating treatment. The complainant states that he was better qualified than the other candidates and that he was given an unsatisfactory reason for not being selected for the promotion. The submission states that all the positions were filled by Irish females. In June 2014 a meeting was held to investigate a grievance raised by the complainant relating to the promotion process, however the grievance was not upheld. Following this complaint the complainant resigned, he alleges, in circumstances amounting to constructive dismissal.

2.4 In a narrative submission the complainant's representative summarised the claim. The complainant had applied for an internal promotion to the grade of senior analyst. Despite being the most senior person to apply for the position he was unsuccessful. Three Irish women were selected for the positions. On foot of this the complainant initiated a grievance claim as allowed by the company Grievance Policy. Following the submission of the grievance the complainant's relationship with his level 2 manager broke down. There were increased levels of stress, he felt victimised, he was in mental distress and he decided that he had to leave his employment.

2.5 Through his representative, the claimant submits that he had been encouraged to apply for the post of senior analyst by his level 3 manager. It is the complainant's case that he was an ideal candidate for the position as he possessed both the qualifications and experience required. When he applied he believed he "ticked all the boxes". At the interview for the positions the complainant thought he had performed very well and had answered all the questions asked of him in full. At the end of March 2014 he was told that he had not been successful in his application. Although only two posts were advertised as being available, following the interviews, three people were promoted; all women and all Irish. The complainant was of the view that he was better than the candidates selected, particularly in view of his greater experience. The complainant was not happy with the outcome and sought an explanation form his manager. He was told that the interview panel had been of the view that he had not given practical examples as required in the interview. This lack of examples, he was told, was the reason he had not been selected for promotion.

2.6 The complainant submits that he did not file a formal complaint regarding the interview process until two months after the interview. However, during that two month period the complainant's relationship with his level 2 manager deteriorated. For example emails he sent to this manager were not replied to and he was delegated the highest number of tasks of anyone on the team. A lack of communications with his manager started to cause him stress. Around this time a senior manager called his work "rubbish". At a Quarterly Review the complainant raised the issue of his failure to get promotion with his level 3 manager. He did not get what he considered to be a satisfactory answer. Dissatisfied with the situation the complainant filed a formal grievance on 29th May 2014 alleging discrimination in the selection process for the senior analyst role and mistreatment in his role as an analyst.

2.7 A meeting took place on 12th June to hear the complainant's grievance. The meeting was attended by the Human Resource Manager, two other HR personnel and a senior manager. At the meeting the complainant outlined his story regarding the promotion process and his treatment over the recent past. On 27 June the HR Manager wrote to the complainant confirming, with explanation, that the grievance had not been upheld. The complainant did not appeal this outcome any further as he felt it would get nowhere as none of the issues he had raised were accepted.

2.8 Continuing his narrative the complainant went on to say that following initiation of this grievance his relationship with his level 2 manager deteriorated further. For example at his six-monthly review in July 2014, for the first time ever, he received a rating of "not met expectations", emails were ignored by his manager, his work was called rubbish, his manager said in an abusive manner that he was always looking for help and he was told by his level 2 manger to look for another job. The pressure grew worse and worse. In or around August and September a Personal Improvement Plan was prepared for the complainant. The complainant submits that he was told by his level...

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