SECTION 77(6), EMPLOYMENT EQUALITY ACT, 1998
(REPRESENTED BY BOLGER WHITE EGAN & FLANAGAN SOLICITORS)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY T.R. BRENNAN & CO. SOLICITORS)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Carberry
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Application under Section 77(6) of the Employment Equality Act, 1998
2. The worker referred her case for an extension of time to the Labour Court on the 22nd of June, 2004. The following is the Court's decision:
Section 77(5) of the Act states that the complainant must refer a claim for redress in respect of discrimination or victimisation within six months from the date of the occurrence or, as the case may required, the most recent occurrence of the Act of discrimination or victimisation to which the case relates.
Section 77(6) of the Act allows for an extension of the 6 month time limit for referring a case to a period not exceeding 12 months, where the Court is satisfied that exceptional circumstances prevented the complainant's case being referred within the time limit of 6 months.
The Court has considered the written submissions of the parties on the application by the complainant, pursuant to Section 77(6) of the Act, for a direction that the time for the bringing of the complaint be extended.
The complainant was dismissed on the 15th September, 2003. Her complaint was received by the Labour Court on 27th May, 2004. This was outside the six months time limit for the bringing of such claims.
The complainant contacted her legal advisors between the 8th and 15th September, 2003, about her impending dismissal. One week later instructions were given to commence proceedings before the Labour Court. The complainant completed the form"Application to the Labour Court for redress under the Employment Equality Act 1998"on1st December, 2003. Her legal advisers forwarded the statutory questionnaire to the respondent's solicitors on 1st December, 2003. A response was not received until 2nd March, 2004. Her legal advisors had expected an earlier reply. Ensuing correspondence with the complainant and with their legal counsel resulted in her legal advisors not lodging the papers on time with the Labour Court.
The Court notes that the response from the respondent's solicitors arrived almost two weeks before the deadline date.
The Court is being asked to consider that, as the respondent's solicitors did not respond to the statutory questionnaire in a more prompt fashion, this resulted in her legal advisors not filing the proceedings on time.
In the opinion of the Court, this reason does not support the argument that there were exceptional circumstances preventing the complainant from referring her claim in time. Counsel for the complainant has not advanced any other reason as to why the claim was not filed on time.
The Court is not satisfied that the circumstances disclosed constitute "exceptional circumstances " and accordingly, the application for an extension of time specified in section 77(5) is denied.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th July 2004______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.