SECTION 21, EMPLOYMENT EQUALITY ACT, 1977
BOXMORE PLASTICS LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
MS. ELIZABETH FARRELL CASSIDY
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Appeal by Ms. Elizabeth Farrell Cassidy against Equality Officer's Recommendation
EE8/1999 concerning an allegation that Boxmore Plastics Limited discriminated against her because of her marital status in terms of Section 2 (a) and 2 (b) of the Employment Equality Act, 1977 ("the Act") and contrary to Section 3 of the Act.
2. The background to this case is set out in the Equality Officer's Recommendation (details with the Court). The Equality Officer in his recommendation, which issued on the 21st of May, 1999, found that the claimant was not discriminated against contrary to the terms of the Act.
The worker alleges that the treatment she received from her employer both before the interview process and at the interview itself was discriminatory.
The Union appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court on the 30th of June, 1999 on the following grounds:-
"that there was a clear case of indirect discrimination on marital status, particularly under Sections 2 and 3 of the Employment Equality Act, 1977."
The Court heard the appeal on the 1st of December, 1999.
Both parties expanded orally on their submissions at the hearing.
The Union claimed that the Company had discriminated against the claimant within the meaning of Section 2(a) and 2(b) of the Employment Equality Act, 1977 and in contravention of Section 3 of that Act and in its selection procedures for appointment to the post of General Operative (weekend shift). The Union argued that the Equality Officer's decision was based on a narrow interpretation of the Act in relation to marital status and ignored the claimant's claim of indirect discrimination because of whom she was married to.
It was further claimed that the involvement of the particular interviewer acting in a solo capacity, a person who had responsibility for human resources in the Company, and was in daily conflict with her husband, raised the question of subjectivity and bias.
The Equality Officer examined the grounds for complaint cited by the Union including:-
- The fact that the claimant was kept waiting for an hour and a half prior to interview.
- References allegedly made prior to and during the interview in relation to the role of the claimant's husband as shop steward in the Company.
- The fact that the interviewer actively discouraged her during the interview.
- The fact that it was raised at the interview that she had previously owned a boutique despite the fact that it was not on her application form.
(A) The Court has taken cognisance of the submissions of the parties and considered the additional oral evidence advanced by both parties. The Court makes the following findings of fact in relation to the grounds of complaint:-
1. There is no evidence to suggest that the delay in starting the interview was an attempt at discrimination.
2. The Court accepts the Company's contention that the reference to the claimant's husband was an explanation of the delay in interviewing her and did not indicate an intention to discriminate either directly or indirectly against the claimant on the grounds of her marital status.
3. On the claimant's submission that she was discouraged from the job, the Court accepts, given the nature of the job, that the Company had an obligation to present a picture to all interviewees as to the type of job they were applying for.
4. In relation to the reference to the boutique, the Court agrees with the Equality Officer that a reference to other employment carried on by the claimant would not, on the basis of evidence presented, have been an attempt to discriminate against the claimant on the grounds of her gender or marital status.
The Court is satisfied, given the make-up of the successful applicants appointed to the position, that there is no evidence to indicate that the claimant was treated less favourably than male candidates on the grounds of gender nor in relation to her marital status. On the evidence presented it is clear that married and single male and female candidates were appointed to the positions. There is insufficent evidence to indicate that the claimant was treated less favourably than single female candidates on the grounds of her marital status.
The Court, having considered all of the evidence presented, finds the Company's explanation that the claimant was unsuccessful at interview, because she failed to convince the interviewer that she would meet the time commitment or would stay long-term in the job, is reasonable. Having considered all of the evidence before it, the Court upholds the Equality Officer's findings that Boxmore Plastics Limited did not discriminate against Ms. Elizabeth Farrell Cassidy in terms of Section 2(a) and 2(b) of the Employment Equality Act, 1977, or in contravention of Section 3 of that Act, when the Company found her to be less suited than the successful candidates for the position of General Operative (weekend shift).
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
25th January, 2000.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Determination should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.