SECTION 27, EMPLOYMENT EQUALITY ACT, 1977
CLUB ATLANTIC (WESTPORT) LIMITED
- AND -
Chairman: Mr McGrath
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Dispute relating to a dismissal brought under Section 27 of the Employment Equality Act, 1977.
2. The employer in this case is Club Atlantic (Westport) Limited, Allamount Street, Westport, Co. Mayo. The worker was employed in a hostel operated by the Company from the 13th April, 1996 to the 30th May, 1996. She was on work experience at the hostel for approximately a month beforehand.
On Tuesday the 28th May, the worker's boyfriend informed the manager of the hostel that she was pregnant and needed time off to attend hospital. The worker claims that on Thursday, 30th May she was called into the manager's office. She was told that because her work as a cleaner was too hard for her, and as there was no light work available, it would be better if she left. The worker claims that she was unfairly dismissed and was discriminated against because of her pregnancy, contrary to Section 3 of the 1977 Employment Equality Act.
The worker referred her complaint to the Labour Court under Section 27 of the Employment Equality Act, 1977. The Labour Court investigated the complaint in Castlebar on the 20th of August, 1997. Both parties made written and oral submissions to the Court.
3. 1. The worker did not have any problems doing her duties, including the month of her work experience. She not only did her own work but other duties, such as sweeping the yard. She did not try to discourage others from doing their work.
2. The worker was given her own room at the hostel. She lived 7 miles outside Westport and because she came from a large family she was grateful to have the room to herself. She did not have friends or family visiting her room on a regular basis as the Company claims.
3. On one occasion, 2 large groups of people were staying at the hostel. When there was trouble with a group of boys, the worker helped out although she was not on duty. The person who should have been on duty had gone to a public house and the worker was the only one available to deal with the situation. She was assaulted by one of the boys using a knife.
4. On the day she was dismissed the worker did not ask for "a sitting down job" as she enjoyed her work. There was no indication on the previous Tuesday that there was any problem with her job.
5. The worker admits sleeping-in one morning until 9.40 a.m. but that was the only occasion and she apologised for it. She was not given any terms and conditions of employment in writing.
4. 1. The worker was not dismissed because of her pregnancy. The Company had already intended dismissing her because her work was inadequate and was deteriorating. Another worker was dismissed for the same reasons. The worker had been given a number of warnings because of her poor work performance and the Company had received complaints about her from her co-workers. She discouraged other workers from doing their duties.
2. The worker slept-in on a number of occasions and was given a warning when she left the hostel unattended because she slept until 9.40 a.m. The worker was not given a room of her own at the hostel. She was told that she could use the room on occasions if she was working late. She was not supposed to use the room on her days off although she did so.
3. The worker put up a notice in the television room saying that it could not be used after 10.30 p.m. This was against hostel rules, which were on display for everyone to see. She used the television room for her own personal use.
4. On the 30th of May the worker told the manager that she was pregnant and had been advised by her doctor that, as she had high blood pressure, she should not do physical work. She asked for a sitting down job. When she was told that there was none available she said that she supposed that she would have to go. The Company presumed that she was resigning and, as such, did not have to dismiss her as was intended. The Company has never discriminated against female workers who were pregnant and has employed them on a number of occasions.
The Court has considered all of the evidence put forward by the parties. The Court finds that the claimant was unfairly dismissed, and that the manner in which her dismissal was effected was not in keeping with what would have been expected of any reasonable employer.
The Court, however, does not find that the claimant was dismissed as a consequence of her pregnancy.
Accordingly, the Court does not find that the worker was discriminated against contrary to the provisions of the Equality Act 1977 and dismisses the claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
23rd December, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Order should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.