Ex Employee awarded €4,000 for discrimination claim not investigated by the employer.
In a recent Labour Court hearing, a judgement was made awarding an employee €4,000 on the basis that the employer had not taken sufficient steps to address her claim that she was being discriminated against by her fellow work colleagues. She claimed that she had experienced verbal abuse over a short space of time; after having worked with the organisation for 4.5 years, she left her job less than three weeks after first telling her boss about the abuse she suffered. However her claim that she was constructively dismissed was unsuccessful.
The main points from this case were that while the company did send her a copy of the handbook and asked for her to document the complaint so that they could deal with it as per their policy, they had not investigated the claim and failed to take action.
The judge felt that: “It is not, in the Court’s view, best practice for an employer to seek to deal with alleged infringements of the Employment Equality Act 1998 by directing employees to a basic Grievance Policy or a general Bullying Policy.”
He also added: “It is no defence for an employer who has failed to investigate complaints of the magnitude raised by the complainant in this case to seek to justify their inaction on the basis that the complaints were not presented to them in written format.”
“The Court expects an employer to be proactive and, if necessary, to take a statement of the complaint(s) from the alleged target of the discriminatory behaviour.”
Varying a WRC adjudication officer decision from 2016, the Court did find however that the employer did not have an adequate anti-discrimination policy and associated complaints procedure in place.