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€45,000 paid out for interview ‘manipulation’ in gender discrimination case

IRN recently reported that an employer, an Irish engineering company, deliberately manipulated the marking system in an interview process, favouring a male candidate who was then offered the position.

The company had been taken over by another organisation, and the 2 financial/accounting positions were being replaced by one new position of Finance Manager. A female and a male colleague then applied for this position. The female applicant was then informed (after 2 interviews) that she had been passed over in favour of the other candidate, who was part-qualified. The female candidate asked for the marking details, and pointed out that she was more qualified and had many more years experience than the other candidate in the engineering sector. When she eventually received the scores, she could see a number of deficiencies in the process, the most significant being the ‘incorrect noting of her response’ to a question under the heading of ‘financial acumen’. She had also – within the previous 2 years – been asked how many children she had.

The Equality Officer stated that the claimant was very credible, clear and consistent in her testimony, and had established a prima facie case of discrimination in relation to the finance manager post and that the company had failed to rebut the inference. She was awarded €45,000 – the equivalent of one year’s salary – in compensation for the distress suffered and the effects of the discriminatory treatment on her.