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 €5,000 for the effects of this discrimination. One employee was awarded a further €2,000 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 €327,000. 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...

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