Following six months of homophobic discrimination by a colleague, a former employee of an Irish retailer has been awarded €8,000 in compensation
The company, which has not been named, has refuted all claims made by the complainant but an inquiry by the Workplace Relations Commision (WRC) found she was the victim of sexual harassment.
The woman worked as a sales assistant and complained that she was the victim of harassment by another colleague, named Mr A in the WRC report.
The report states that the employee was a lesbian and that Mr A made at least four separate comments insulting her sexuality.
Among them were comments saying she was “not a normal person”, asking her “why she didn’t want men”, attributing mental health issues to gay people and linking the origin of homosexuality to child abuse.
The WRC report states that the employee complained about the behaviour but was not satisfied with a subsequent investigation:
“The complainant was advised from the outset of the investigation that the alleged perpetrator would not be fired but may be advised of a final written warning in respect of his behaviour towards her. She was dissatisfied with the investigation, which upheld two of the complaints as she felt pressurised to come up with dates which were then not sought from the alleged perpetrator. She felt that she wasn’t believed.”
The WRC found that the company did not discriminate against the woman in allegedly reducing her hours of work, but it found that she was discriminated against and that efforts to stop this “led to the complainants hurt and humiliation”.
“I found evidence of a workplace culture where casual talk on highly personal and sensitive issues was permitted without redirection,” the report’s author states.
“I also found evidence of a subplot of multicultural uncertainties, where boundaries were perceived as being breached without reportage or intervention. This is a workforce that needs careful management, tolerance and support going forward.”
The woman is no longer an employee at the retailer.
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