‘Racist and homophobic’ remarks overheard from staff at state solicitor’s office

Staff at the Chief State Solicitor’s Office also raised concerns about “gender equality in the office" and a need for more social inclusion.

The image shows the front of the Chief State Solicitor's Office in Dublin. It has a grey front with a large window of glass bricks to the left. There is a metal barrier outside at the edge of the footpath closest to the road.
Image: Metro Centric via Wikimedia Commons

A staff survey carried out at the Chief State Solicitor’s Office (CSSO) has reported that a number of respondents claimed to have overheard racist and homophobic remarks from co-workers. 

The review also found that employees reported overhearing fellow workers “talking down of inner (city) Dublin communities,” and it also raised concerns that members of the legal and administrative team adopted an “us versus them” attitude towards other teams, according to an article in The Irish Independent.

The survey, which petitioned 165 responses, also explored the staff’s attitude to diversity, equality and inclusion, with concerns being raised about “gender equality in the office as regards men” and a need for more social inclusion in the wider legal profession.

The respondents agreed there should be zero tolerance for certain language and behaviours – for example, around racism and derogatory comments about inner-city communities.

As many as 14%, equating to 23 staff, disagreed with the statement that the office did not tolerate bullying, harassment, or any form of discrimination in the workplace.

The Chief State Solicitor’s Office, which provides litigation, advisory and conveyancing services to Government departments and offices and to certain other State agencies, originally refused to publish the survey, which was carried out in 2021. However, it was later instructed to do so by the Information Commissioner under the Freedom of Information Act.

Whilst most of the employees believed that management had a positive attitude towards mental health, with 75% agreeing that their superior was “cognisant of mental health”, respondents did highlight the irregularity of wellness sessions, efforts to deal with poor performance in the workplace and the current performance-management system.

Furthermore, as many as 40% of responses either ‘disagreed’ or ‘strongly disagreed’ that “poorly performing staff were dealt with effectively”.

The report concluded that the Chief State Solicitor’s Office needed to address the concerns raised around bullying, harassment and discrimination.

According to the report in The Irish Independent, the Chief State Solicitor’s Office refused to comment.

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