A queer former employee at an Irish creche was awarded €5,000 in compensation after she claimed she was effectively “outed” at work by a colleague. The business has been ordered to compensate the former staff member because of its failure to provide proper harassment training to its workers.
As reported by RTÉ, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) published a fully anonymised decision about a complaint brought forward by a queer woman who claimed that in 2021, she was subject to unlawful discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the form of harassment after she was effectively “outed” while at work.
The complainant alleged that she was questioned by a colleague and pressured to admit that she had “no interest in men”. She also explained to the Commission that she had previously told “nobody” at work about her sexual orientation, as it had been “very difficult” for her to talk about it even with her parents.
The former employee revealed being very upset by the episode, adding that when she reported it to her manager, she was told that she “should have lied” if she didn’t want people at work to know about her sexual orientation. The complainant also brought forward a second claim of victimisation, alleging that her working hours had been reduced after she reported the incident to management.
After hearing evidence from the complainant’s colleague and from the creche management, the Commission found that the colleague had not intended to target the complainant on the basis of her sexual orientation, but that she had shown a “basic lack of understanding” of the creche’s harassment policy. Moreover, the Commission found that there was no evidence of harassment training at the creche “outside of producing policies for staff to read”.
Under the Employment Equality Act 1998, the Commission made an order to the creche to pay its former employee €5,000 in compensation. However, it found no basis for the second claim of victimisation after hearing that changes to the staff roster were based on “the business needs of the creche in difficult times caused by the pandemic”.
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