Employment Equality Law – Discrimination and Constructive Dismissal
The client came to the Thursday evening free legal advice clinic in Community Law & Mediation, which is kindly supported by the Bar Council. She was working in the catering industry and had been working in the same restaurant for over 20 years. The client reported that throughout her employment, male employees were given longer breaks while female employees were given cleaning jobs which male employees were not required to do. She described a culture of favouritism, in which male members of staff were given more responsibility and female members of staff were treated less favourably than their male counterparts. She never challenged this, putting it down to the culture within the industry. She was reluctant to cause any trouble or to jeopardise her employment. One incident, however, compelled her to come to CLM’s clinic. She and the only other female member of staff were told not to come to work for a month, as the business was to close while renovations were completed. Both women received notice of temporary unavailability of employment for the period of temporary closure. It then emerged that the male members of staff were asked to attend work as normal to assist with the work and the clean up afterward. This option was not given to the female employees. The client decided that this time, she wanted to do something about it.She lodged a grievance but ultimately, was forced to resign due to the manner in which her grievance was dealt with.
The client decided to make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission, alleging discrimination and constructive dismissal. She was unsuccessful before the WRC and reported her disappointment at what she felt was not a fair outcome in her case.CLM lodged an appeal to the Labour Court on her behalf, challenging the decision of the WRC, and made submissions on the circumstances of her resignation. Ultimately, a satisfactory settlement was reached on behalf of the client.
The client was very happy with the outcome, as it vindicated her decision to enforce her rights and consequently, to end her employment. She quickly secured another job and is much happier with it. She found the process intimidating and confusing and was extremely grateful for the support CLM was able to provide.