SECTION 19(5), EMPLOYMENT EQUALITY ACT, 1977
SOUTHERN HEALTH BOARD
(CORK UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY THE EMPLOYMENT EQUALITY AGENCY)
Chairman: Mr McGrath
Employer Member: Mr Brennan
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Time Limit
2. The Labour Court received the complaint of the worker under Section 19 of the Employment Equality Act, 1977 ('the 1977 Act') on the 5th of June, 1996.
The date on which the alleged discriminatory act took place was given as "pre-interview held on 07/03/95 and 12/04/95 and subsequently until 18/12/95".
The party alleged to have discriminated is the Southern Health Board (Cork University Hospital).
Section 19(5) of the 1977 Act provides: "Save only where reasonable cause can be shown, a reference under this section shall be lodged not later than six months from the date of the first occurrence of the act alleged to constitute the discrimination".
The Court decided to hear the parties to the dispute for the purpose of considering whether or not there was "reasonable cause" for the delay in making the reference.
The claimant worked as a locum consultant physician at Cork University Hospital from July, 1990 until December, 1995. In December, 1994, the post occupied by her was advertised in a permanent capacity. The Claimant applied for the post but was unsuccessful. She considered that she had been discriminated against on the grounds of her sex in relation to the filling of the post. On her behalf it was stated that the delay in lodging her complaint to the Labour Court arose from a belief on her part that her co-operation with ongoing negotiations with the Hospital would result in a "restructured" post for her (details supplied to the Court).
The Hospital argued that no action was taken by the worker for a period of 15 months after the alleged discriminatory act on the 7th of March, 1995, and that if the incident was as serious as alleged, the application should have been brought well prior to June of 1996.
The Court investigated the matter of time-limit, in Cork, on the 5th of February, 1997.
The Court is satisfied that reasonable grounds have been shown by the worker as to why a reference of this dispute was not lodged within the time limit stipulated in the 1977 Act. The dispute will consequently be referred to an Equality Officer for investigation.
The Court has only considered the reasons for delay in this case; the arguments by the parties which are directed at the substance of the dispute are not relevant at this point, and remain to be investigated and considered by the Equality Officer.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
28th of February, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.