Ms. HR(Represented by SIPTU) vs TG(Represented by IBEC)
1.1 The dispute concerns a claim by SIPTU, on behalf of Ms. HR, that she was discriminated against by the TG on the grounds of her sexual orientation within the meaning of Sections 6(1) and 6(2)(d) of the Employment Equality Act, 1998 and contrary to the provisions of Section 8 of that Act when her relationship with another member of staff was made known.
2.1 The complainant commenced employment with the respondent organisation in September, 1999 and was promoted to the position of Assistant Accommodation Manager in February, 2000. It is the complainant's contention that she was subjected to discriminatory treatment after it became known that she was having a relationship with a female colleague. This discriminatory treatment took the form of verbal and written warnings in relation to work performance and attendance. The respondent denies the allegations.
2.2 Consequently the complainant referred a complaint to the Director of Equality Investigations on 21st October, 2002 under the Employment Equality Act, 1998. In accordance with her powers under Section 75 of that Act the Director then delegated the case to Gerardine Coyle, Equality Officer on 20th June, 2003 for investigation, hearing and decision and for the exercise of other relevant functions of the Director under Part VII of the Act. Following receipt of submissions from both parties a joint hearing took place on 15th June, 2004. Further additional information was received from the parties with the final
information being received on 3rd September, 2004.
3. SUMMARY OF THE COMPLAINANT'S SUBMISSION
3.1 The complainant commenced employment with the respondent organisation in September, 1999 and in February, 2000 she was promoted to the position of Assistant Accommodation Manager. It is the complainant's contention that discrimination commenced in September, 2001 when rumours went around the respondent organisation about her relationship with the a colleague, Ms. A. While on holidays in September, 2001 the complainant states that Ms. A was approached by her supervisor about the rumours of a lesbian relationship between the complainant and Ms. A and it was suggested to Ms. A that she would be better off 'coming clean about it' and Ms. A admitted that the rumours were true. On her return to work the complainant says that the Accommodation Manager told her not to go up to the 5th floor of the respondent organisation where Ms. A worked. It is the complainant's contention that she was effectively barred from the 5th floor. If she did go up to the 5th floor for any reason it was reported to the Accommodation Manager and she would be challenged about it. The complainant says that, prior to September, 2001 there would have been occasions when she would have had to supervise Ms. A but this was no longer the case.
3.2 The complainant states that on 28th September, 2001 she received a verbal warning for failing to phone in when she had been out sick for a few days prior to taking leave. The complainant disputed this as she alleges that she had contacted the respondent organisation on the eve of taking the sick leave and left a message with the receptionist for the Accommodation Manager to state that she would not be in work the following Monday. On the Monday the complainant states that the Accommodation Manager left a message on her mobile to contact her, which she did, but the Accommodation Manager had gone home. According to the complainant she spoke with a supervisor and told her that she was still unwell and would not be in work on the Tuesday. She then phoned the Accommodation Manager at home but got no reply. On the Tuesday the complainant says that she again phoned the Accommodation Manager but she had finished her shift so the complainant informed a supervisor that she would be in work the next day. According to the
complainant the Accommodation Manager attacked her over failing to inform her that she would not be in on the Monday. When the complainant explained about having rung the respondent organisation on a number of occasions the complainant says that the Accommodation Manager accepted this and the verbal warning was rescinded following a meeting with the Union and Management on 20th November, 2001 relating to a number of warnings issued to the complainant.
3.3 The complainant says that in October, 2001 she went into work on a Tuesday morning, having been off work the previous Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and she was handed a written warning by her Manager. She was told that her Manager, the Human Resource (HR) Manager and a Duty Manager had undertaken an inspection on her section on the previous Friday and had identified a number of things which were wrong. The complainant did not believe that the things that were identified as being wrong were actually wrong and she challenged the fact that the inspection had taken place in her absence. According to the complainant she was told by the Accommodation Manager that she was getting the warning and 'that was that'. The complainant states that she was upset as she had worked in the respondent organisation for in excess of two years and never had a complaint about her work from other staff members or from clients. The complainant notes that this was the subject of discussions between management and the Union.
3.4 According to the complainant she had sought certain days off but her request was not granted and she was told by her Manager that she would have to take other days off. Then the roster was again changed and she was obliged to work a day she had been told that she would be off. The complainant states that this was inconvenient to her as she was moving house at the time but she was told by the Accommodation Manager that the roster would not be changed and that she had to work on that particular day. The complainant also alleges that, in the book recording staff holiday, six days of her holidays had been crossed out. When she raised this with her Manager she was told that the General Manager had stated that she was not entitled to these days. According to the complainant when she works on Sundays or Public Holidays she always works the rostered time of 10.00a.m. to 6.00p.m. but would leave 20 to 30 minutes early to catch a bus home. If she did not get this bus she would not get one until 7.45p.m. On the October, 2001 Bank Holiday the complainant was rostered to work and she started work at 10.00a.m. and left between 5.30p.m. and 5.40p.m. On the 7th November, 2001 she was called to a meeting with the HR Manager and the Deputy General Secretary at which the HR Manager indicated that she had a problem with the complainant leaving early on Sundays and Bank Holidays and gave her a written warning. When asked for the reason for the written warning the complainant was told that it was 'for going early and not reporting to a duty manager and you never told me'. According to the complainant she had told the night person and had rung reception and her Manager was aware that she left early on Sundays and Public Holidays and did not have a problem with this. It is the complainant submission that she was very upset by this and felt that she was being set up by the respondent who wanted her out. She received the written warning on 12th November, 2001.
3.5 The complainant states that she received a memo dated 18th February, 2002 which was signed by the General Manager and directed to her Manager. In it the General Manager complained about the complainant's work and as a result her Manager moved her from the area she had worked in for three years. The complainant notes that staff have never received such a memo before. Any matters of this nature would be raised verbally with the Accommodation Manager.
3.6 According to the complainant the Accommodation Manager was on leave during the first week of September, 2002 when a notice was put up stating that rosters and Social Welfare forms were not to be signed by anyone except the HR Manager or the Deputy General Manager. The complainant notes that, prior to this occasion, she and only she had always signed these in the Manager's absence. The complainant says that, some weeks prior to September 2002, she was completing stock requisitions, as she had done on many occasions before, but on this occasion she was told by her Manager that there was no need for her to do this task and the Accommodation Manager took over doing it.
3.7 The complainant states that despite repeated requests to her Manager she got little or no 8.00a.m. to 4.00p.m. shifts over a long period of time. It was only when she again requested this shift that she got it more regularly. She states that she would often be rostered to work straight seven day shifts. According to the complainant her days off each week were being split and not given together whereas other supervisors got their days off together. The complainant says that she brought this to the attention of her Manager and asked that her days off would not be split unless specifically requested and the Manager agreed to this. The complainant notes that on 7th March, 2002 she reminded her Manager that she had requested 31st March, 2002 off for personal reasons. The Manager indicated that she was due to work that day and could not have it off. According to the complainant she pointed out to her Manager that she had arranged a day off for another supervisor in similar circumstances but her Manager said that it was none of her (the complainant's) business what she did for other supervisors. It is the complainant's contention that she was spoken to 'like a dog' by her Manager that day and that she was virtually ignored by her on a regular basis. The complainant says that her Manager would only say 'hello' when other staff members were around otherwise she would walk past her and if she was trying to explain something about the respondent organisation she would be cut short by the her Manager in a rude manner.
3.8 In July/August, 2002 when Ms. A had left the organisation the complainant says that she started having lunch with her colleagues but this arrangement was split up by her Manager leaving her to have her lunch alone.
3.9 These are some of the numerous incidents that have occurred since September, 2001. It is the complainant's contention that the respondent became aware of her lesbian relationship with her colleague and as a result she has been subjected to a determined and deliberate attempt to be removed from the organisation. The complainant says that prior to September, 2001 she had an excellent disciplinary record but since her relationship became known she has been involved in numerous disciplinary hearings for alleged breaches of procedures, etc and many of which she claims have not been substantiated by management. According to the complainant she endeavoured to deal with the matter but it eventually took its toll forcing her out of work on sick leave due to stress on 28th October, 2002. The complainant says that she resigned her position shortly afterwards.
4. SUMMARY OF THE RESPONDENT'S SUBMISSION
4.1 The respondent denies the allegations made by the complainant. The respondent states that it was unaware of the complainant's relationship with another employee until, through her actions alone, it became known. According to the respondent the complainant returned to work from annual leave and approached her Manager and informed her of her relationship with a female colleague. The Accommodation Manager was surprised but stated "whatever goes on in your private life is your business". The respondent denies that the complainant was barred from the fifth floor as alleged and says that she use to go to the fifth floor every day to collect her partner for their breaks. It is the respondent's submission that the complainant had to work on the fifth floor and that her partner (Ms. A) would have had to work directly with her on a number of occasions.
4.2 The respondent states that it is company procedure and practice that should an employee be unable to attend for duty then the Duty Manager or Head of Department must be informed. According to the respondent the complainant did not follow this procedure and could not say which receptionist or supervisors with whom she had spoken. The respondent denies that the complainant was attacked by her Manager when she was asked why she had not informed her of her absence. Following discussion with the complainant and her representative it was decided to remove the warning given in relation to this incident and the complainant attended Induction to refresh her on all areas of the respondent procedure.
4.3 In relation to time off the respondent states that it is difficult to respond to allegation of having been refused to have a particular day off when dates have not been supplied. However it is the respondent practice to give requested days off, where possible, in line with business demands. Furthermore the respondent states that it is permitted for supervisors to swap days off among themselves with prior authorisation from the Accommodation Manager or in her absence the Deputy General Manager or the HR Manager. According to the respondent the complainant received a number of days off as requested in October, 2003 to facilitate a house move. The respondent would also note that, where possible, almost all requested days off were given to the complainant.
4.4 Contrary to the complainant's allegation that an inspection of her work was undertaken in her absence the respondent says that on 12th October, 2001 a new Manager was being shown around and errors were seen. The respondent denies the complainant's contention that there had never been any complaints about her work. According to the respondent it was not aware that the complainant had to leave early on particular days of the week. The respondent states that company practice has always been that if an employee is leaving the building before the end of their shift the Manager on Duty or Head of Department must be informed. This, according to the respondent, is in line with Health, Safety and Fire obligations. The respondent notes that it is the complainant's submission that she contacted reception and the night attendant before leaving. However reception contacted the Duty Manager as the complainant could not be located and the night attendant did not know of the complainant's whereabouts. The respondent notes that the complainant has stated that the arrangement was that she could leave 20 to 30 minutes before the end of the shift but on this occasion she had left almost an hour before her shift ended.
4.5 The respondent says that it is usual practice that the same Managers would complete and sign off on social welfare forms in each Department and in the absence of the Manager these forms are signed off on by the HR Manager. Forms signed by the complainant in the absence of her Manager had to be returned for signature by the HR Manager. According to the respondent the Accommodation Manager has no recollection of the conversation alleged to have taken place in relation to stock requisitions. The respondent states that this is a task for the complainant and other staff members at her level in the organisation.
4.6 According to the respondent the complainant explained to her Manager that she would be unable to work the 8.00a.m. to 4.00p.m. shift as she was living in Celbridge and she was facilitated with a later shift. Then in late January, 2001 she informed her Manager that she would be able to work the early shifts as she had a new car. The respondent says that it was agreed with the Union (SIPTU) that staff at the same grade as the complainant in the organisation would have every second weekend off. To allow for this and also to ensure that staff would not have to work more than 5 days, days off would be split on
occasion. The respondent states that work rotas show that the complainant's days off were together where possible. According to the respondent days off when requested are not guaranteed though every effort is made to facilitate requests where business demands allow. In relation to 31st March, 2002 the respondent notes that the complainant was able to arrange a change of day with a colleague enabling her to have the day off.
4.7 The respondent states that prior to Ms. A departure the complainant would spend her lunch breaks in the staff canteen and other supervisors would often have lunch in the office. According to the respondent this arrangement caused difficulty during the summer months during peak periods as long breaks resulted in periods of no cover. Consequently for the busy months a rotated lunch rota was drawn up and lunch breaks overlapped by 15 minutes. According to the respondent no individual was ever alone for lunch and staff would continue to use the office for their breaks.
4.8 The respondent refutes the complainant's claim that her employment record could be described as excellent prior to her holidays in August, 2001. According to the respondent the complainant's Manager had cause to speak with the complainant with regard to the standard of her work as follows:
(a) June/July, 2001 - The Accommodation Manager routinely checked the complainant's work and noticed a deterioration in the standard of her work and this had been discussed verbally with the complainant on a number of occasions. On each occasion the complainant apologised and promised she would rectify the situation.
(b) August, 2001 - A client contacted the Accommodation Manager regarding property he had left behind him in his room. The Accommodation Manager checked the lost property records but there was no record of the missing items. The respondent says that the Accommodation Manager asked the complainant about the items and was told that nothing had been found when the room had been cleaned out. This was explained to the client who insisted that the items had been left behind. The Accommodation Manager asked the complainant to check again and the items were recovered from the place where the client had said that he had left them. The respondent states that the complainant apologised for the oversight and was advised that she would need to be more diligent.
(c) September, 2001 - While the complainant was on holidays her work was taken over by the Accommodation Manager and occasionally by a number of supervisors. According to the respondent a number of errors were noticed in her work and a lot of effort had to be employed in bringing her work up to the standard required. On her return to work this was discussed with her and she apologised and stated that she would take more care in the future.
(d) June, 2002 - One of the rooms which had been inspected by the complainant yet when the guest arrived it was discovered that the room had not been serviced at all. The guest was very annoyed and complained to the Duty Manager.
(e) The complainant inspected a room which had an ongoing maintenance problem with a leak in the bathroom. When asked about same the complainant replied that it was not her job to check maintenance and she was quite rude to the Duty Manager who had enquired. The respondent states that the checking that all areas of a bedroom are in a safe working order is one of the first duties a supervisor completes when checking a room.
(f) July, 2002 - At 17.35p.m. two duty Managers were conducting a security walk and met the complainant in the back lane of the hotel. She was dressed in her own clothes and was leaving the hotel. The occupants of two rooms contacted the Manager on duty requesting various items because no response was being received from Accommodation. On checking it was discovered that the complainant was on the 10.00a.m. to 6.00p.m. shift that day.
(g) August, 2002 - Two rooms were inspected by the complainant and allocated to guests. The guests contacted the Manager on duty and asked him to come to the rooms. The guests were very annoyed as the bins were full of rubbish from previous guests and the bathroom floors were dirty. The guests had to be moved to superior rooms and given monetary recompense.
(h) October, 2002 - The Accommodation Manager met with the complainant about her personal appearance as her jacket was badly stained and had not been cleaned in some time, there were holes in her shoes and her blouses were extremely dirty. According to the respondent the complainant must set an example for other employees and this was not being done. The complainant said that she 'hadn't bothered to clean her shoes' and her jacket was stained with paint. The Accommodation Manager offered to arrange for the company dry cleaner to come in at the weekend to clean the jacket, she offered the complainant some safety shoes and the laundry facility of the hotel for her blouses if required. The respondent states that the complainant's response was to walk away saying 'yeah, whatever'.
(i) October, 2002 - During a routine spot check by the Manager a number of issues were identified as problems in two of the rooms under the responsibility of the complainant. When approached about these issues her response was 'sure they're grand'.
4.9 The respondent alleges that the complainant failed to adhere to various company procedures thus endangering the Health and Safety of herself and her colleagues. On 26th January, 2001 the complainant was 3 hours late for work and she did not inform anyone that she would be late. The Accommodation Manager was told by her of this on 29th January, 2002. The respondent says that on 27th January, 2002 the complainant and her partner (Ms. A) were given permission to meet a relative (home on holidays) for a drink in the hotel bar. At the end of the night the complainant used her pass key to gain access to one of the hotel bedrooms without permission from the Manager on duty. The respondent notes that this was an abuse of both the security and the fire safety policy of the hotel. When questioned, the complainant stated that she had told the night porter to tell the night Manager that she was staying. The respondent states that it is company policy that an employee who wishes to stay in the hotel must get permission from the Manager on duty so that employee details can be recorded on computer in the event of an evacuation. When asked about this the complainant is alleged to have said that she did not know that the Manager on duty had to be informed even though a number of memos were sent to staff to this effect and were also displayed on the staff notice board.
4.10 The respondent further notes that two complaints of Bullying and Harassment were made against the complainant by other employees. One was made by another supervisor in the summer of 2001 and the other in the summer of 2002 by a Room Attendant who reported to the complainant. According to the respondent the Accommodation Manager has also stated that the complainant would regularly come into the inner accommodation office whistling loudly or banging drawers even though the Manager was on the phone to guests and suppliers. When asked to lower her voice the respondent says that the complainant would continue regardless and would continue to behave like this in the presence of suppliers.
4.11 As a Quality Employer the respondent states that it strives to improve the facilities available to staff for their professional progression and personal development. According to the respondent it endeavoured in numerous ways to facilitate, support and assist the complainant during her employment whereas the complainant has made a deliberate and concerted effort to undermine the Accommodation Manager, the Department and the employees within it.
5. CONCLUSIONS OF THE EQUALITY OFFICER
5.1 The issue for decision in this claim is whether or not the complainant was discriminated against on the grounds of her sexual orientation in terms of Sections 6(1) and 6(2)(d) and contrary to the provisions of Section 8 of the Employment Equality Act, 1998. In making my decision in this claim I have taken into account all of the information, both written and oral, made to me by the parties.
5.2 The complainant commenced employment with the respondent organisation in September, 1999. In February, 2000 she was promoted to the position of Assistant Accommodation Manager. The complainant alleges that when she went on holidays in September, 2001 her partner was asked by her supervisor about her relationship with the complainant and the partner indicated that they were having a lesbian relationship. According to the complainant when she returned to work from her holidays she said to the Accommodation Manager "I know that you know about me and Ms. A". At the hearing of this claim the Accommodation Manager denied that she knew that the complainant was in a lesbian relationship with Ms. A. She also said that, at the time, she responded to the complainant by saying "Whatever goes on in your private life is your business".
5.3 The complainant set out a number of incidents which she alleges occurred after she had told the Accommodation Manager of her sexual orientation. It is her contention that she was not treated in this manner before her sexual orientation became known in the respondent organisation. These incidents are as follows:
(a) Complainant effectively barred from the fifth floor where her partner worked
It is the complainant's contention that she was effectively barred from the fifth floor where her partner worked because the Accommodation Manager was aware of her sexual orientation. The respondent has denied this. I note that, at the hearing of this claim, the Accommodation Manager indicated that up until 18th February, 2002 the complainant was rostered to work on the Lavery Wing which was on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th floors of the respondent organisation and that the complainant worked on all these floors. It was the complainant's duty to inspect rooms after they had been cleaned to certify that they were cleaned properly. The Accommodation Manager indicated that she worked daily from 8.00a.m. to 4.00p.m./4.30p.m. After she had left the complainant, as Deputy Accommodation Manager, would have to inspect rooms which were not ready before the Accommodation Manager left. The complainant accepted that this was the case. In the circumstances I am not satisfied that the evidence supports the complainant's contention that she was effectively barred from the 5th floor just because this is where her partner worked.
(b) Verbal warning for not phoning into work when out sick for a few days
In her submission the complainant alleges that she contacted the respondent organisation and asked the receptionist to inform the Accommodation Manager that she would be out of work the following day (Monday) sick. On the Monday the Accommodation Manager contacted the complainant on her mobile and left a message but when the complainant returned the call the Accommodation Manager had gone home. I note that in a letter of complaint to the respondent about this verbal warning the Union, on behalf of the complainant, stated that the complainant had spoken to the Accommodation Manager on the Monday when she returned her call. In relation to this issue I note that there is a conflict between what the complainant said happened at the time (October, 2001) and what she said happened in her submission to me dated August, 2003. I consider that the recollection of events as at October, 2001 is a more accurate version of what actually happened. I note also that there is no indication in the letter from the Union to the respondent organisation that the Accommodation Manager had attacked the complainant as is alleged. On the balance of probabilities I find that there is no evidence in relation to this incident to support the contention that the complainant was treated less favourably than a colleague on the grounds of her sexual orientation.
(c) Written warning about things wrong in her work area
According to the complainant she received a written warning in October, 2001 following an inspection of her work area by the Accommodation Manager, the HR Manager and a Duty Manager. It was alleged that a number of things had been wrong. The complainant denies that these things were actually wrong and she challenged the fact that the inspection had been undertaken in her absence. Furthermore she says that there had never been any complaints about her work prior to her sexual orientation being known. The respondent denies this allegation and says that an inspection of the complainant's work was not been undertaken in her absence. Rather a new manager was being shown around and the errors were noticed. The respondent further denies that there had never been any complaints about her work. Prior to September, 2001 the respondent says that the Accommodation Manager had to speak to the complainant about the standard of her work on a number of occasions. The respondent specifically refers to one incident where the complainant failed to check a room properly after it had been vacated and was not aware that the guest had left some property behind. It was only after this guest's insistence that this property had been left behind that the complainant found it and after new guest had occupied the room. I note that the complainant accepts that this incident took place. In February, 2002 the General Manager stayed in the hotel overnight and on 18th February, 2002 he wrote to the Accommodation Manager indicating that he was appalled at the level of cleanliness in the room. There is no evidence to suggest that the General Manager would have known that the complainant had been in charge of this room or that the sending of this note to the Accommodation Manager was because he knew of the complainant's sexual orientation. The evidence does suggest that there was a difficulty with the quality of the complainant's work. Given the nature of the respondent's business high standards have to be demanded and I am satisfied there is no evidence that the complainant was being treated less favourably in this regard because of her sexual orientation.
(d) Days off
The complainant has alleged that she sought certain days off but her request was not granted. On one occasion the roster was changed and she was obliged to work on a day she had originally been rostered to be off. At the time she was moving house and this proved very inconvenient. The complainant further alleged that, despite repeated requests she got little or no 8.00a.m. to 4.00p.m. shifts over a long period of time. Furthermore her days off each week were split (not together) whereas other supervisors got their days off together. Without specific information on what days the complainant wanted off, where her requests were not granted, the respondent says that it cannot comment. According to the respondent it facilitated the complainant with days off around the time she was moving house. In relation to working the 8.00a.m. to 4.00p.m. shift the respondent states that the complainant herself had asked not to be put on this shift as she travelled to work by bus and would not be in a position to attend for work at 8.00a.m. The complainant did not deny that this was the case. Furthermore it is reasonable that the Accommodation Manager and the complainant (her deputy) would not be working the same shift in order that the person in authority would give as wide a cover as possible on a daily basis. In terms of the complainant's allegation that her days off were split I have examined the rosters and find that her days off were split both before and after the Accommodation Manager became aware of her relationship with Ms. A. Furthermore based on the evidence it was not correct to say that the complainant's days off each week were split. It must also be said that the complainant had more of her days split than other staff but her request for specific days off contributed to this. On this basis I find that the complainant was not treated any differently in this regard because of her sexual orientation.
(e) Understanding that the complainant could leave early
On Sundays and Bank Holidays the complainant was rostered to work from 10.00a.m. to 6.00p.m. to facilitate her getting a bus to work on time. According to the complainant she had a verbal understanding with the Accommodation Manager and with her former Manager that she could leave work early when she worked on Sundays or Public Holidays so that she could get the bus home. If she did not get this bus she would not get another bus until 7.45p.m. On 12th November, 2001 the complainant received a written warning for leaving early on these days and for not reporting to the duty manager that she was leaving. It is the complainant's submission that the Accommodation Manager was aware of this arrangement and that before she would leave she would inform reception and the night attendant. In its submission the respondent has indicated that it was not aware of any alleged agreement that the complainant could leave early and at the hearing of this claim the respondent indicated that there was no such agreement with the complainant's former manager. An incident occurred and the HR Manager needed to discuss it with the complainant. According to the respondent the complainant was not to be found and the receptionist did not know of her whereabouts. There is no evidence that another member of staff in similar circumstances would not be treated in the same way. I find that there is no evidence to support the contention that the complainant was treated less favourably on the grounds of her sexual orientation in relation to this incident.
(f) Signing of rosters and Social Welfare forms
According to the complainant the Accommodation Manager was on leave during the first week of September, 2002 when a notice was put up stating that rosters and Social Welfare forms were not to be signed by anyone other than the HR Manager or the Deputy General Manager. The complainant noted that she had always signed these in the Accommodation Manager's absence. I note, from the respondent's submission, that the notice about the rosters was dated February, 2002 and related to them being submitted to the HR Manager or the Deputy General Manager for approval before release. The reason for this, according to the respondent, was due to the downturn in business and the need to monitor all expenditure including labour costs. In relation to the Social Welfare forms the respondent notes that these are usually signed by the same Managers in each Department and where a manager is absent it is signed by the HR Manager. The respondent stated that forms signed by the complainant previously had not been recognised and had been returned. According to the respondent it is normal practice in all Departments that where the manager is absent the forms are signed by the HR Manager. I am satisfied that there is no evidence that the complainant was treated less favourably on the grounds of her sexual orientation in relation to the approval of rosters and the signing of Social Welfare forms.
(g) Accommodation Manager's attitude to the complainant
The complainant alleges that the Accommodation Manager regularly ignored her unless other staff members were present. If the Accommodation Manager did speak to the complainant, she spoke to her 'like a dog'. Furthermore if she tried to explain something to the Accommodation Manager she would be cut short in a rude manner. The respondent denied that the Accommodation Manager had been rude to the complainant. There is no evidence to support this contention.
(h) Complaint about the condition of the complainant's uniform
The complainant says that she was approached by the Accommodation Manager in October, 2002 about the condition of her uniform - her shoes had holes and there was paint on her jacket. According to the complainant the Accommodation Manager told her not to put any more make-up on her neck as her blouses were filthy and she suggested that the complainant must not be washing her blouses. The complainant says that the Accommodation Manager told her that if she wished she could use the washing machine in work. It is the complainant's submission that she felt humiliated by the Accommodation Manager. The respondent accepts that the Accommodation Manager did have to speak to the complainant about her appearance as there were holes in her shoes, a paint stain on her jacket and her blouses were extremely dirty. According to the respondent the Accommodation Manager spoke to the complainant because, as deputy, she had to set an example for other employees. Furthermore the Accommodation Manager offered the complainant a pair of safety shoes, a dry cleaner to come in to clean her jacket and the respondent's laundry facilities to wash her blouses. I note that the complainant herself accepts that she needed a new pair of shoes and that there was a paint stain on her jacket. The state of her blouses is what is in dispute. I find, however, that there is no evidence that the complainant was treated less favourably on the grounds of her sexual orientation in this matter.
(i) Other allegations of being undermined by the Accommodation Manager
At the hearing of this claim the complainant indicated that she had a number of other incidents where she considered that she was badly treated by the Accommodation Manager. Subsequent to the hearing of this claim she submitted details of these allegations and the respondent responded to them. I have examined these and am satisfied that, in relation to these incidents, there is no evidence that the complainant was treated less favourably by the respondent on the basis of her sexual orientation.
5.4 In conclusion therefore I find that the complainant has failed to establish a prima facie claim of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in this case.
6.1 In view of the foregoing I find that the TG did not discriminate against Ms. HR on the grounds of her sexual orientation in terms of Section 6 of the Employment Equality Act, 1998 and contrary to the provisions of Section 8 of that Act.
6.2 I note that, while the respondent has a Bullying and Harassment Policy, it does not make a specific reference to sexual orientation. I recommend that the respondent introduce an equality policy covering sexual orientation. This policy should explicitly state that it is unlawful under the Employment Equality Act, 1998 to treat a person less favourably at work because their sexual orientation is homosexual rather than heterosexual.
9th September, 2004