SECTION 21, EMPLOYMENT EQUALITY ACT, 1977
MAYO VOCATIONAL EDUCATIONAL COMMITTEE
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION )
- AND -
MS. MAUREEN GANNON
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal by Mayo VEC against Equality Officer's recommendation No. EE12/1996 and an appeal by the worker for implementation of the same recommendation.
2. This dispute concerns a claim by Ms. Maureen Gannon that, on 30th September, 1993 the Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mayo VEC discriminated against her in terms of Section 2 (a) of the Employment Equality Act, 1977 and in contravention of Section 3 of that Act when her 'B' Post of Responsibility allowance was withdrawn on the basis of her voluntary transfer back to Moyne College, Ballina in September, 1993. She also claimed that, on 7th June, 1994 the Department of Education discriminated against her in terms of Section 2(a) and in contravention of Section 3 of that same Act when it did not sanction the payment of a 'B' Post of Responsibility allowance.
Ms. Gannon was appointed as a permanent teacher of English to Ballina Vocational School (now known as Moyne College, Ballina). She obtained a 'B' Post of Responsibility in 1985. In 1987 she was given a compulsory transfer to Crossmolina Vocational School to meet the educational needs at the time. The claimant retained her 'B' Post of Responsibility allowance, but was never happy about the transfer.
In May, 1993 she made a request in writing for a transfer back to Moyne College, Ballina. This request was granted in July, 1993. Following the transfer, her 'B' Post of Responsibility allowance ceased with effect from the 1st of September, 1993.
Ms. Gannon is of the opinion that her letter requesting a transfer was used as a vindication for stopping her allowance while other male staff in similar circumstances were not treated in a similar manner to her. She lodged formal complaints with the Labour Court on 26th March, 1994 against the Acting CEO, Mayo VEC and again on 23rd November, 1994 against the Department of Education. These complaints were referred by the Court to an Equality Officer for investigation and recommendation.
Following her investigation, the Equality Officer found that Mr. Langan, Acting CEO, Mayo VEC directly discriminated against Ms. Gannon, on the basis of her sex when he withdrew her 'B' Post of Responsibility. She further found that the Department of Education did not discriminate against Ms. Gannon in terms of Section 2 (a) and contrary to the provisions of Section 3 of the Employment Equality Act, 1977. On the 22nd May, 1996, she recommended that Ms. Gannon be re-assigned to 'B' Post of Responsibility duties and that the associated allowance be paid to her with effect from its cessation (i.e., 1st September, 1993). She further recommended that Ms. Gannon be paid the sum of £1,000 in the way of compensation for stress suffered by her.
On the 2nd of July, 1996, Ms. Gannon appealed the recommendation for implementation. On the same day, the Mayo VEC appealed against the recommendation, on the following grounds:-
1. The Equality Officer erred in law and in fact in finding that the Appellants discriminated against the Respondent contrary to Section 3 of the 1977 Act;
2. The Equality Officer was incorrect in her conclusion that, in his acting capacity as Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Langan was the Respondent's employer;
3. Any other grounds of appeal which might arise during the course of the investigation.
The Court heard the case, in Castlebar, on the 20th of November, 1996. Both parties made written submissions to the Court, which were expanded upon orally during the course of the hearing.
The Court, having heard the submissions of both parties in this case, and, having carefully considered the Equality Officer's recommendations which are the subject of appeal, has come to the following conclusions:-
- 1. There was no evidence before the Labour Court that male teachers were granted voluntary transfers and allowed to retain Posts of Responsibility.
2. It is clear from Paragraph 6.5 of the Equality Officer's Recommendation that she understood the claim to be against Mr. Langan in his capacity as representative of the VEC, which was the claimant's employer. In any event, whether the employer was or was not correctly named does not materially affect the outcome of this appeal.
3. The Court is satisfied on the evidence before it that the loss of her 'B' Post of Responsibility on the transfer of the claimant back to her original school was a normal consequence of a requested transfer. Such loss followed logically from the application by the Department of Education of Arbitration Report No. 11 on Posts of Responsibility.
4. The Court has considered the allegation that certain named male teachers were treated more favourably than the claimant. The employer's response was that in each case there were grounds other than sex affecting those transfers and which justified the retention of the Posts of Responsibility in accordance with Arbitration Report Number 11. Those grounds were different in each case; one transfer was on account of ill-health, another was a volunteered transfer, and in a third case, the teacher's headquarters did not change and he, therefore, retained his post in the school at which he was based.
The Court accepts that these grounds were proved. Accordingly, the Court is satisfied that there was no discrimination within the meaning of Section 3 of the Employment Equality Act, 1977.
The Court, therefore, holds that there was not discrimination and allows the appeal of the VEC.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
7th of March, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Determination should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.