Case Number: DEC-E2016-047. Workplace Relations Commission

CourtWorkplace Relations Commission
Date09 March 2016
Docket NumberDEC-E2016-047
PartiesMs Julia Polonski -V- Cityjet Ltd
EMPLOYMENT EQUALITY ACTS 1998-2015 Decision DEC – E2016 – 047 PARTIES Ms Julia Polonski (represented by Sarah Lea, B.L, instructed by Brophy Solicitors) and Cityjet Ltd. (represented by Paul Brady B.L., instructed directly by the respondent) File Reference: et-150410-ee-15 Date of Issue: 9th March 2016

Keywords: gender – pregnancy – outside S. 77(5) time limits – no jurisdiction – family status – constructive dismissal, either discriminatory or victimisatory – An Employer v. A Worker (Mr O)(No. 2) [EED0410] – when should a worker be allowed to rescind a resignation - Charles Shinkwin v. Donna Millett[EED044] and Kwik-Fit (GB) Ltd v. Mr G Lineham[1991 UKEAT 250_91_2410] – limits of duty of employers to go behind reasons for a resignation.

1. Claim

1.1. The case concerns a claim by Ms Julia Polonski that Cityjet Ltd discriminated against her on the ground of family status contrary to Section 6(2)(c) of the Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2011, in terms of discriminatory dismissal and other discriminatory conduct. The complainant also complains of victimisation contrary to S. 74(2) of the Acts.

1.2. The complainant, through her solicitor, referred a complaint under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2011 to the Director of the Equality Tribunal on 3 November 2014. A submission was received from the complainant on 19 August 2015. A submission was received from the respondent on 12 October 2015. On 2 December 2015, in accordance with his powers under S. 75 of the Acts, the Director General delegated the case to me, Stephen Bonnlander, 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 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 case on 4 March 2016.

2. Summary of the Complainant’s Written Submission

2.1. The complainant submits that she worked for the respondent as cabin crew from 17 October 2007, initially on a fixed term contract, then, from April 2008, on a permanent contract.

2.2. In February 2013, the complainant was working in an accounts role, following medical advice in connection with her pregnancy. She commenced her maternity leave on 20 April 2013. She states that by letter dated 20 August 2013, she was informed by the respondent’s HR department that her maternity leave would cease on 19 February 2014 or on 12 June 2014 if she availed of additional maternity leave. The letter also stated that failure to give the required notice or failure to return to work on the agreed date would be an indication that the complainant did not intend to return to her job. The complainant submits that this show that the respondent clearly envisaged that she would not return to work.

2.3. The complainant further submits that due to difficulties with her line checker, Ms. K., regarding her return to work and her terms and conditions of employment, she had no option but to resign her employment. She was particularly concerned that the number of overnights required of her. She states that this could be up to six days in a row, which was different from her previous terms and conditions and caused her difficulty as the mother of two young children.

2.4. The complainant states that the respondent did not provide any assurances or accommodations to her and was not willing to countenance any flexibility. According to the complainant, the respondent also failed to acknowledge that there was an alteration in the complainant’s terms and conditions of employment as cabin crew, and that these were to her detriment as a working mother. The complainant resigned her employment on 9 May 2014. She then sought to retract her resignation on 23 May 2014, but the respondent did not accept this.

2.5. The complainant...

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