EMPLOYMENT EQUALITY ACTS, 1998-2004
EQUALITY OFFICER'S DECISION NO: DEC-E2007-008
Ms. Marie Casey
(Represented by the INTO)
Board of Management, Coachford National School, Co. Cork
(Represented by Ms. O'Driscoll, B.L. instructed by Arthur O'Hagan Solicitors)
The Department of Education and Science
File No: EE/2004/286 Date of Issue: 8th February, 2007
1.1 The dispute concerns a claim by the INTO, on behalf of Ms. Casey, that she has been discriminated against by the Board of Management, Coachford National School, Co. Cork and the Department of Education and Science on the grounds of gender and family status within the meaning of Section 6(2) of the Employment Equality Acts, 1998-2004 and in contravention of Section 8 of those Acts when she was asked discriminatory questions at interview.
2.1 The complainant applied for the vacant position of Principal Teacher in the first named respondent organisation and was unsuccessful in her application. She alleges that at the interview she was asked questions which were inappropriate and discriminatory and there was a general lack of transparency in the selection process. It is her contention that this unlawful discrimination had the effect of her not being appointed to a post for which she was eminently qualified and for which she had done an excellent interview.
2.2 Consequently the complainant referred her complaint of discriminatory treatment to the Director of Equality Investigations on 9th December, 2004 under the provisions of the Employment Equality Acts, 1998-2004. In accordance with her powers under Section 75 of those Acts the Director then delegated the claim to Gerardine Coyle, Equality Officer on 12th September, 2006 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 a joint hearing took place on 4th January, 2007. Additional arguments were received from the Union on 18th January, 2007.
3. SUMMARY OF THE COMPLAINANT'S SUBMISSION
3.1 The complainant is a qualified primary teacher who has augmented her initial qualifications with a range of in-career development courses over her career to date. She has taught in two schools in Co. Cork as well as teaching for a period of 10 years in primary schools in England. The complainant has an excellent record of attendance at school and an excellent teaching record. According to the complainant the alleged discrimination occurred during the course of the appointment process to the post of Principal Teacher in the first named respondent organisation. The procedure for the appointment of a Principal Teacher is as set out in Appendix D of the document Board of Management of National Schools - Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure. This document was published in November, 2003 by the second named respondent in this claim. According to the complainant these are the procedures envisaged under Section 23(1) of the Education Act, 1998 which provides that the procedures for the appointment of a Principal Teacher shall be as agreed from time to time by the education partners. The complainant notes that in a recent judicial review case the High Court found that the process of appointment of a Principal Teacher is subject to judicial review and that the procedures as outlined in Appendix D are mandatory.
3.2 The complainant notes that the Rules and Constitution of Boards of Management at Appendix D provide, inter alia, that
§ Each applicant called for interview shall be supplied with details of the established criteria for the post
§ All questions at interview shall relate to the requirements of the particular post and to the Rules for National Schools
§ No question should be asked nor information sought in any form from a candidate which might be construed as being discriminatory on grounds of sex or family status
§ Among the factors which are to be taken into account in making an appointment are (i) professional qualifications; (ii) teaching experience and reports on competence; (iii) other relevant experience; (iv) references.
3.3 In the summer of 2004 the complainant applied for the position of Principal Teacher in Coachford National School. She states that she had the requisite qualifications and experience to entitle her to apply for the position and to be appointed. She was interviewed for the position on 27th July, 2004. According to the complainant she did not receive a copy of the selection criteria prior to the interview as is required under the procedures. During the course of the interview the complainant alleges that she was asked to specify the ages of her children and how long it would take her to drive from her home area to Coachford daily. The complainant says that she was taken aback and shocked at these questions. She believes that these questions were indicative of a view that a parent (and in particular a mother) was not a suitable candidate for appointment. It is the complainant's belief that she was a suitable candidate for the position but that the questions amounted to discrimination in the selection process and that they influenced the outcome of the process. In this regard the complainant cites the Labour Court Determination in the case of Ms. Marian Sheils O'Donnell and the BOM of St. Baithin's N.S. (2)
3.4 On learning of her failure to be appointed to the post of Principal in the respondent organisation the complainant wrote to the Chairperson of the Board of Management on 17th August, 2004 in which she expressed her disappointment and in particular her surprise at the questions she was asked. She sought her marking sheets and scores as well as the selection criteria which had not been furnished prior to interview. In a response dated 25th August, 2004 the Chairperson of the Board of Management acknowledged that the complainant had done a good interview and enclosed her marks under each heading/criteria. The Chairperson acknowledged that the issue of the age of her children and the distance she had to travel between home and the respondent organisation did arise at interview in response to comments made by the complainant and not as a result of direct questions. The complainant disputes this.
3.5 The complainant notes that while Qualifications and Experience are mandatory criteria under Appendix D of the Rules and Procedures, Suitability (which is not mandatory) was the criterion which attracted half of the marks. It is the complainant's submission that Suitability by its nature is very subjective and in the absence of interview notes it is difficult to ascertain what exactly was meant by this criterion. The complainant notes that the respondent failed to respond to a questionnaire which was sent to the first named respondent under the legislation seeking additional information to assist her in making her arguments in her case.
3.6 The complainant rejects the second named respondent's assertion that it has no role in this matter. It is her belief that the second named respondent does have a role in the appointment process of Principal Teachers and she contends that the second named respondent is a joint employer of teachers in National Schools and is a party to the contract of employment. In this regard the complainant cites the Labour Court Determinations in the cases of Employment Equality Agency v Department of Education (3) and Sheils O'Donnell v Board of Management of St. Baithin's N.S. and the Department of Education and Science (4). She also refers to the provisions of the Education Act, 1998 regarding the role of the Minister vis a vis the employment of teachers and concludes that the second named respondent is correctly cited as a respondent in this claim.
4. SUMMARY OF THE FIRST NAMED RESPONDENT'S SUBMISSION
4.1 The first named respondent denies that it discriminated against the complainant as alleged or at all. It denies that the complainant was asked questions at interview which were inappropriate or that there was any lack of transparency around the selection process. The first named respondent denies that the selection process or any questioning therein amounted to unlawful discrimination which had the effect of the complainant not being successful in her application for the post of principal teacher. It is the first named respondent's submission that the complainant has failed to discharge the burden of proof which rests upon her to prove that she was treated less favourably on the grounds of gender and/or family status and that the burden of proof has not shifted to the first named respondent to prove that the complainant was discriminated against. The first named respondent submits that the assessment procedure for the interview was clear and transparent, the interview was conducted in a thorough and proper manner, candidates were treated equally and each candidate was given a full opportunity to elaborate on relevant matters and bring matters to the attention of the interview board. According to the first named respondent the successful candidate scored higher on the interview process and as a result the position was offered to that candidate.
4.2 The first named respondent states that it advertised the post of Principal of Coachford National School in 2004. Interviews for suitable candidates were arranged and the interview panel consisted of Mr. Kevin Donnelly, Chairperson of the Board of Management, Mr. John Finnegan and Ms. Sheila Crowley who were appointed from the Patron's List of Independent Nominees. It is the first named respondent's submission that the procedure for the appointment of the Principal Teacher for Coachford National School was conducted in accordance with the Board of Management of National Schools - Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure which was published in 2003 by the second named respondent. According to the first named respondent the complainant was interviewed for the position on 29th July, 2004 - this interview was delayed to facilitate her holiday arrangements.
4.3 The first named respondent states that the panel of interviewees agreed in advance of interviews the questions to be asked of interviewees. Each member of the interview panel wrote down the questions to be asked at interview prior to the interviews being conducted. It was also agreed that the Chairperson of the interview board would commence the interview by conducting the appropriate introductions between the candidate and the panel. According to the first named respondent the agreed questions were as follows:
Mr. Donnelly (Chairperson of the Interview Board):
1. How do you see the job of principal in connection with the broader community?
2. An irate parent calls to your school on a Monday morning with a complaint, how would you deal with it? What procedure, forms to be made out/recorded etc.
3. How involved would you like Parents Associations to be?
4. Parent Meetings - How often do you think they should be held?
5. Any further questions.
Ms. Crowley's questions were to cover qualifications and work experience:
1. Take us through your C.V.
2. Tell us about yourself where you trained as a teacher, etc.
3. Ask about present teaching positions, what class is taught?
4. Should teachers rotate and change classes from time to time?
5. The role of parents in schools.
Mr. Finnegan's questions related to staff relations, staff problems and health and safety:
1. Late staff, how would you deal with the situation?
2. Difficult or out of line children in your school.
3. Delegation of jobs within the school.
4. View on health and safety policy.
5. What would it mean to you to be principal of our school?
According to the first named respondent each candidate was granted approximately 30 minutes for their interviews and notes of these interviews were recorded and retained.
4.4 The first named respondent notes that after the interviews the panel discussed each candidate under various headings and entered an agreed scale rather than averaging marks from individual interviewers. Marks were allocated by consensus on the board's criteria. It is the first named respondent's submission that the assessment conformed to Appendix D of the Rules of Procedure. The first named respondent states that the complainant had shown herself to be a good candidate but the successful candidate demonstrated a greater capacity to meet the needs of the post and greater depth of experience which was supported by positive references.
4.5 The first named respondent states that the scoring was clear and transparent. According to the first named respondent the successful candidate scored higher on suitability as he had previous experience of acting as principal from time to time in his current national school. He had a very good current reference from the principal of his current national school. According to the first named respondent the successful candidate had a greater range of classes and in interview he placed serious importance on children's education and welfare, focussing on children's learning needs and valuing them highly as individuals. The first named respondent states that the successful candidate stressed the importance of involving parents in the working life of the individual staff members and parents. He had stated that trust and co-operation was vital between the parties to enable the successful running of the school. He indicated that that he would treat difficult children with compassion and give them 110% to create and nurture their talents. The first named respondent notes that his attitude was inclusive in attempting to create a better environment where children, parents and teachers play a vital role in the school community. He was also involved in preparing the RSE policy in his current school.
4.6 By contrast the first named respondent noted that the complainant had never acted as Principal. She did not provide a reference from her current principal. Both her references related to previous job applications and one of her references was ten years old at the time of the interview. The first named respondent notes that the complainant had no experience in teaching senior classes since her return to teaching in Ireland in 2000. During the course of her interview the first named respondent says that she indicated that there was a place for parents "as long as they knew their place". In dealing with problems and complaints from parents the complainant indicated that she would discuss the matter, let them blow off steam and then arrange to meet them later. Her response to dealing with difficult children was to get the parents involved.
4.7 The first named respondent states that each member of the interview board will deny that the complainant was asked questions about the ages of her children or the length of time it took her to travel from Newmarket to Coachford as alleged. According to the first named respondent the interview panel will submit that the complainant introduced her children to the general conversation indicating that she specifically returned from England to have her children educated in Ireland. At this point Ms. Crowley did ask the complainant at what stages were her children to which the complainant replied that they were happily settled in school and involved in sport and no further issue arose in relation to this matter. The first named respondent states that the interview board will deny that the complainant was asked how far it was from Newmarket to Coachford and states that the only discussion about Coachford was in the context of the complainant asking the Chairperson of the interview board if he knew a particular Kerry footballer and the Chairperson asked her how she knew Coachford and she stated that she had often passed it with her husband. The first named respondent states that the interview panel submits that any references to the complainant's children and/or Coachford were incidental and conversational and had no bearing whatsoever on the interview or the decision not to appoint her as principal. According to the first named respondent the exchanges derived directly from issues which the complainant raised herself and the panel's responses were merely common courtesy to her.
4.8 The first named respondent notes that all the contemporaneous notes taken by the interview panel illustrate that the complainant thanked the interview panel for 'being fair and relaxed with her'. It is therefore not accepted that the complainant was immediately 'taken aback' at the meeting as is alleged. The first named respondent notes that no complaint was levelled at the interview panel until after the complainant was notified that she was unsuccessful in her application. She wrote a letter of complaint on 17th August, 2004 and received a response on 25th August, 2004. The first named respondent states that both candidates were treated equally. They both mentioned their families and both did so unilaterally and their comments in respect of same were not relevant to the selection process and references to same were incidental and insignificant. The first named respondent states that the complainant has not established facts which are of sufficient significance to indicate that the assessment of the interview panel was influenced by gender or family circumstances.
5. SUMMARY OF THE SECOND NAMED RESPONDENT'S SUBMISSION
5.1 The second named respondent submits that it is not the complainant's employer. According to the second named respondent the first named respondent manages the school on behalf of the patron in accordance with Section 14 of the Education Act. The second named respondent states that its only function is to operate a payroll service in respect of teachers on behalf of Boards of Management and has statutory functions in the setting of terms and conditions for teachers but it is not the employer. In the current case the second named respondent notes that the complainant is employed under a contract of employment with the first named respondent and that the second named respondent is not party to this contract. The first named respondent has responsibility for the recruitment, selection, appointment, discipline and dismissal of staff and in carrying out these functions, the second named respondent says that the first named respondent does not act as its agent. Hence the second named respondent contends that it is not the complainant's employer.
5.2 In support of this view the second named respondent refers to the judgement of Mr. Justice Kearns in the case of Tobin v Minister for Education and Science (5) which refers to a challenge to his dismissal by a former teacher of Mayfield Community School. The second named respondent notes that community schools, unlike national schools, are governed in accordance with a Deed of Trust and Instrument of Management, however the relationship between the Board of Management and the second named respondent is almost identical in relation to employment issues. In his judgement Mr. Justice Kearns examined, inter alia, the issue of who is the employer of teachers in community schools and he held:
"...I am satisfied that the Applicant was employed by the First and Second named Respondents [i.e. the Chairman and Secretary of the Board of Management] and that they, not the Third named Respondent [The Minister] purported to dismiss him."
The second named respondent is of the view that this argument applies all the more in the case of members of staff employed by a voluntary primary school and in these circumstances the second named respondent submits that it is not properly a party in this case.
5.3 The second named respondent states that the relationship of the State and schools is not confined to statute and notes that its relationship derives from provisions in our Constitution. According to the second named respondent the State has a constitutional obligation under Article 42.4 to provide for free primary education. Mr. Justice Kenny in the Supreme Court ruling of Crowley v Ireland (6) states that the
"Constitution must not be interpreted without reference to our history and to the conditions and intellectual climate of 1937 when almost all schools were under the control of a manager or of trustees who were not nominees of the State. That historical experience was one of the trustees who were not nominees of the State. That historical experience was one of the State providing financial assistance and prescribing courses to be followed at the schools; but the teachers, though paid by the State, were not employed by and could not be removed by it: this was the function of the manager of the school who was almost always a clergyman".
The second named respondent notes that the same fundamental relationship continues to operate today.
5.4 According to the second named respondent Equality Officers have, in recent decisions (7), found that the Department was not an employer of a teacher. The second named respondent further refers to the recent judicial review in the case of Phyllis Browne and the Board of Management of Rathfarnham Parish National School and Others and notes that the High Court found that
"it should not be overlooked that the Rules (and Constitution of the Board of Management of National Schools) are derived from Section 23(1) of the (Education) Act of 1998 which requires the Board to appoint a Principal - in accordance with the procedures agreed from time to time between the Minister, the Patron, recognised school management organisations and any recognised trade union or staff association representing teachers ... the statutory framework from which the Rules have emanated expressly recognise the interests of trade unions and staff associations representing teachers".
The second named respondent notes that the judicial review further sets out "that the Board (of Management) was and remains statutorily bound to perform its functions in the manner described in Section 15 of the Act of 1998 and to apply the procedures required by Section 23 of that Act." The procedures required by Section 23 of the Act in turn required the application of specific fair procedures in the appointment of Principal teachers. The second named respondent notes that this case is currently under appeal to the Supreme Court.
5.5 The second named respondent notes that the complainant's representatives have further pointed out that under the agreed procedures for the appointment of a Principal teacher to a school set out in the Rules and Constitution of Boards of Management of National Schools, approval for appointment is provided by the Patron. Following receipt of the approval of the Patron, the Board of Management notifies the teacher of his/her appointment subject to the sanction of the Minister. The Minister's role in this regard relates to Section 24(2) of the Education Act, 1998 - the numbers and qualifications of teachers and other staff of a school, who are to be paid from monies provided by the Oireachtas, shall be subject to the approval of the Minister, with the agreement of the Minister for Finance. In this instance the sanction relates to the fact that there is a vacancy for a Principal teacher in the school and it is in order for the Board of Management to fill it.
6. CONCLUSIONS OF THE EQUALITY OFFICER
6.1 The first issue for decision in this claim is that of the appropriate employer. Then I must decide whether or not the complainant was discriminated against by the relevant respondent on the grounds of gender and family status within the meaning of Sections 6(1), 6(2)(a) and 6(2)(c) of the Employment Equality Acts, 1998-2004 when she was allegedly asked discriminatory questions at interview for the vacant position of Principal of Coachford National School. If I find in this case that the complainant was asked discriminatory questions at interview then I must decide if she would have been successful in her application had she not been asked these questions. In making my decision in this claim I have taken into account all the submissions, both written and oral, from the parties.
6.2 The complainant has argued that the Board of Management of the first named respondent school and the Department of Education and Science (the second named respondent) are properly named respondents in this claim. The second named respondent contends that it is not an appropriate respondent in this claim and that the first named respondent is in fact the complainant's perspective employer and should, therefore, be the only named respondent in this claim. The issue of the appropriate employer has been addressed in detail by the Equality Officer in the Decision in the case of Bleach (8) and more recently in the case of Delaney (9). In these decisions it was held that "the employer of the complainant who is a primary school teacher is the first named respondent, namely, the Board of Management of the school". For the purposes of this claim the first named respondent is the complainant's perspective employer and, therefore, the appropriately named respondent. The second named respondent is not the employer in this case. It should also be noted that in the High Court decision in the case of Tobin (10) Mr. Justice Kearns held that
"On the materials placed before this Court, I am satisfied that the Applicant was employed by the First and Second named Respondents [John Cashell, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mayfield Community School and The Secretary of Mayfield Community School] and that they, and not the Third named Respondent [The Minister for Education], purported to dismiss him,"
Facts at issue
6.3 The complainant alleges that during the course of her interview for the vacant position of Principal of Coachford National School she was asked two questions which were discriminatory on the grounds of her gender and her family status as follows:
§ What are the ages of your children?
§ How far is it from your home to Coachford?
I am satisfied from the evidence that the complainant was not asked if she had children but rather that in explaining why she returned to work in Ireland, having spent a number of years in England, she stated that she preferred the Irish Education System for her children. It is the first named respondent's submission that the interviewer, in an effort to make the complainant feel relaxed, asked the complainant at what stages her children were at to which she received the response that they were in primary school and in her notes she has stated "(still in primary)". I accept that there is a conflict between both parties on this issue. However it is immaterial whether the complainant was asked the ages of her children or at what stages they were at because what stages they are at is a reference to their ages. I understand that the interviewer was endeavouring to be friendly and make the complainant feel at ease but the question, in whatever manner it was put, was discriminatory on the grounds of gender as there is no evidence that a similar question was put to the other applicant who was male even though it is clear from the notes of interview that he made reference to his wife and children.
6.4 The complainant submits that she was asked about the distance from her home to Coachford. She alleges that this question was discriminatory because it was asked after the question about the ages of her children. The first named respondent denies that this question was asked of the complainant during the course of her interview. According to the first named respondent the complainant asked the Chairperson of the Interview Board if he knew a particular Kerry footballer and in the context of this exchange the Chairperson asked the complainant how she knew Coachford to which she replied that she had often passed Coachford with her husband. The first named respondent says that the issue about the whereabouts of Coachford came at the end of the interview and I note that the notes of the interview are consistent with this view. For her part the complainant, in her submission, stated that this question was asked immediately after the question about the ages of her children. At the hearing of this claim the complainant said she could not recollect when the questions were asked. She did say that the issue about the location of Coachford arose in the latter half of the interview and she did not think the questions were asked one after the other. I am satisfied from the notes made by the interviewers during and immediately after the interviews that the question about her children's ages was put to the complainant by the second interviewer while the issue of the location of Coachford came at the end of the interview. I cannot accept that there is any connection between these two questions and I am satisfied that the question about the location of Coachford was not discriminatory on the grounds of gender or family status as alleged.
6.5 Having found that the question about the ages of the complainant's children was discriminatory under the Employment Equality Acts, 1998-2004 the next issue which I must decide is whether or not the complainant would have been successful in her application for the vacant position of Principal in Coachford National School if she had not been asked the discriminatory question.
6.6 Two candidates were interviewed for the vacant Principal position in Coachford National School. The Interview Board scored the candidates on the basis of Qualifications, Experience and Suitability. Half of the marks were allocated to Suitability. Both the complainant and the successful candidate achieved full marks for Qualifications. The complainant scored two marks more than the successful candidate for Experience because her length of service was longer. In terms of Suitability the successful candidate received eight marks more than the complainant and, therefore, overall he received a higher score and was offered the vacant position. The complainant was critical of the fact that half of all marks were allocated to the Suitability criteria which is subjective in nature. She also noted that the Interview Board placed a lot of significance in the fact that the successful candidate had previously acted in the position of Principal whereas she did not have such an opportunity. The complainant noted that the Equality Officer in the case of Ms. Sheenagh Nix and BOM Oola National School (11) considered the argument that the emphasis given to previous experience as a Principal indirectly discriminates against women who are less likely to hold such a position. In that Recommendation the Equality Officer noted as follows:
"Once a prima facie case of discrimination has been established, the onus of proof shifts to the employer to show that the practice complained of is based on objectively verifiable factors which have no relation to the claimant's sex. I consider that in this instance the board of management had failed to discharge this burden of proof. I am satisfied that it has failed to show objectively why the successful candidate one year's experience as a Principal rated him more highly than the claimant taking into account the claimant's higher qualifications and her overall experience. I note that while the board relied on his experience to make a decision it had received no reference or report in relation to this. I also note that it is not an essential requirement for employment as a Principal to have such previous experience. I consider that the criterion used in the selection process was discriminatory and was not free of sex bias."
I note that in this case each of the three interviewers recorded in their notes the fact that the successful candidate had previously acted up in the position of Principal. Two of the three interviewers noted that the complainant had not previously acted up in the position of Principal. Clearly there was some significance placed on the fact that the successful candidate had previously acted up in the position of Principal.
6.7 However it was clear that the interview board, in deciding on the issue of suitability, considered the appropriateness of responses received to questions put at interview. This has been clearly set out by the first named respondent in its submission and outlined at paragraphs 4.5 and 4.6 above. At the interview the complainant accepted that there was a role for parents in schools "as long as they knew their place". In response to a question about irate parents the complainant stated that she would "allow them to blow off steam" and then meet them later. By comparison the interview board noted that the successful candidate answered all questions well emphasising the importance of parents and the use of their talents. Problems arising with children he would deal with himself as Principal and he would attempt to get to the root of the problem with late or problem staff. While the interview board did give some significance to the fact that the successful candidate had previously acted up as Principal it was not the only factor which was taken into account in deciding on the issue of suitability. I am satisfied, on the basis of the evidence, that the discriminatory question which was put to the complainant at interview did not influence the outcome of the interview and that she was not discriminated against on the grounds of gender or family status when she was not successful in her application for the vacant position of Principal.
6.8 The complainant noted that the interview board had not followed all proper procedures as set out in Appendix D of the document entitled Boards of Management of National Schools - Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure as published by the Department of Education and Science (the second named respondent in this case). The complainant further notes that the procedures outlined in Appendix D are mandatory (12). While the first named respondent did not follow the procedures exactly the impact of the failure to supply details of established criteria was the same for both candidates who were interviewed for the vacant Principal position. I note that the age related question to the complainant was not related to the post and I have held that it was discriminatory on the grounds of gender. There is no evidence that the failures in terms of the procedures led to a discriminatory situation with regard to the outcome of the interview process.
6.9 At the hearing of this claim the complainant stated that the interview board in their notes made during and after the interviews stated that her references appeared to be out of date (not recent). It is a matter of fact that the successful candidate submitted a reference from the Principal of the school in which he was currently employed and the complainant did not. She stated at the hearing of this claim that the Principal had retired in 2004 and she felt it would be better to submit a reference from the Principal who had known her rather than one from a Principal who had not been in the school very long. In relation to another reference given to her in August, 2000 she stated that she approached the author of that reference (a Fr. McCarthy) for an updated reference and he said that the reference he had already given her would suffice. While this explains the reasons that the complainant's references were not up to date the interview board members were not aware of these reasons when they made their comments which were justifiable in the circumstances. In terms of the references I am satisfied that there is no issue of discrimination.
6.10 I note that each of the interview board members noted the complainant's comment at the end of the interview that it was both "fair and relaxed". At the hearing of this claim the complainant denied that she made this comment at the end of her interview. As the interviewers notes were made both during and immediately after the interview I must accept that the complainant did say this and that this was complainant's immediate reaction to her interview.
7.1 In view of the foregoing I find that Ms. Casey was directly discriminated against by Coachford National School on the grounds of her gender in terms of Sections 6(1) and 6(2)(a) of the Employment Equality Acts, 1998-2004 and contrary to the provisions of Section 8 of those Acts when she was asked a discriminatory question at interview for the vacant position of Principal.
7.2 I further find that Coachford National School did not discriminate against Ms. Casey when she was not successful in her application for the position of Principal of Coachford National School. The effect of the discriminatory question was not such as to adversely impact on the outcome of her interview.
7.3 In accordance with Section 82 of the Employment Equality Act, 1998 I hereby order the following:
(a) that the first named respondent pay Ms. Casey the sum of €1,000 by way of compensation for breach of her rights to equal treatment under the Employment Equality Acts, 1998-2004 and for the stress suffered as a result of the discriminatory question; and
(b) that the first named respondent ensures that all future interview boards follow the defined procedures for carrying out interviews.
8th February, 2007