Recent Developments In Employment Law In Ireland

Author:Mr David Fagan
Profession:Eversheds
 
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An Equality Tribunal case has stated that employers should

put in place clear procedures for ensuring that non-national

employees understand their terms and conditions of employment

as well as health and safety documentation.

On 30 April 2008 the Equality Tribunal issued its decision

in the case of 58 Named Complainants v Goode Concrete

Limited. Like many companies operating in the construction

sector, Goode Concrete Limited has an extremely diverse

workforce. In its total workforce of 166 people, 14

nationalities are represented and 13 different languages are

spoken.

Fifty-eight employees, representing six different

nationalities, brought claims against the company alleging

discrimination on race grounds. Most of the complaints were

similar, all alleging discriminatory treatment in the

company's failure to provide each employee with a contract

of employment in his native language and in failing to provide

employees with the safety documentation in their own language.

A number of employees also brought claims alleging race

discrimination in the conduct of disciplinary and dismissal

procedures.

The Equality Tribunal found that each of the complainants

was subjected to race discrimination in relation to their

contracts of employment and safety documentation. Each

complainant was awarded Ä5,000 for the effects of this

discrimination. One employee was awarded a further Ä2,000

for the stress suffered as a result of the discriminatory

treatment when he returned to work late after the Christmas

vacation. In addition, two employees received additional awards

arising out of allegations of race discrimination in the manner

of their dismissal. In total, Goode Concrete faces a

compensation bill of Ä327,000.

Apart from the fines, the Equality Officer ordered the

company to put in place clear procedures for ensuring that

non-national employees understand their terms and conditions of

employment and understand all safety documentation. The

Equality Officer also ordered the company to maintain better

records of disciplinary meetings and to provide training to

management on the provisions of the Employment Equality Acts

1998-2007.

What is of concern to employers in this case and what makes

it more noteworthy is that the company actually had

comprehensive procedures and documentation in place with much

of the documentation having been translated into Russian as

well as English and it had arranged for translators to be

present at safety training sessions of...

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