SECTION 26(1), EMPLOYMENT EQUALITY ACT, 1977
M/A COM EUROTEC
(REPRESENTED BY RONAN, DALY, JERMYN SOLICITORS)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY MARTIN A HARVEY & CO SOLICITORS)
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Alleged unfair dismissal under section 26(1)/27 of the Employment Equality Act 1977.
2. The dispute concerns a worker who commenced employment with the Company, on the 27th of May, 1998, in the capacity of general operative. She claims that, having been the subject of vulgar and suggestive remarks by a colleague on a number of occasions, she complained to her supervisor and was, consequently, dismissed. The Company rejects her claim of unfair dismissal stating that her employment was terminated for a number of reasons including to her inability to "cope with the work", her "negative attitude which could have negative impacts on the morale of the team" and her failure "to fit in to the Company's organisation culture".
The worker referred the matter to the Labour Court, on the 26th of November, 1998, in accordance with Sections 26(1) and 27 of the Employment Equality Act, 1977. The Court investigated the dispute, in Cork, on the 3rd of February, 1999.
The Court was furnished with written submissions from both parties which were expanded upon orally during the course of the hearing. The Court also heard sworn witness evidence from both sides.
Having considered the submissions made by the parties and the sworn evidence adduced on their behalf, it is clear to the Court that the manner of the claimant's dismissal fell far short of the objective standards of fairness which would be expected of a reasonable employer. However, this case has not come before the Court under the Industrial Relations Acts and such considerations cannot be taken into account in determining the claim under Section 26/27 of the Employment Equality Act, 1977.
The substance of the claimant's case is that she was dismissed from her employment for having made a complaint to her former employer of sexual harassment by a fellow employee. The employer claims that the reason for the dismissal was the claimant's failure to "fit in to the Company's organisation culture". The employer denies that any complaint of sexual harassment was made by the claimant until after the decision to terminate her employment was taken.
The claimant relies on Section 26 of the Employment Equality Act, 1977, which renders unlawful a dismissal arising solely or mainly from the claimant having, inter-alia, opposed by lawful means an act which is unlawful under the Act. In cases such as this the claimant must establish, on the balance of probabilities, that a complaint was made to the employer and that the making of the complaint was the sole or main reason for the dismissal. That places an onus on the claimant which is not lightly discharged.
Having reviewed the evidence in this case, the Court finds that the claimant has not discharged the onus of proving that her dismissal resulted solely or mainly from having made a complaint of sexual harassment.
Accordingly, her claim under the Employment Equality Act, 1977, is dismissed.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
23rd February, 1999.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Order should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.