ADJUDICATION OFFICER DECISION
A HR Manager
Complaint/Dispute Reference No.
Date of Receipt
Date of Adjudication Hearing:
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer:
In accordance with Section 41 of the Workplace Relations Act, 2015 and Section 79 of the Employment Equality Acts, 1998 – 2015 following the referral of the complaint / dispute to me by the Director General, I inquired into the complaint / dispute and gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any evidence relevant to the complaint / dispute.
The Complainant is a Medical Technician and alleges discrimination in a selection process for promotion on the grounds of her gender.
Summary of Complainant’s Case:
In January 2018 the Complainant went on emergency medical leave due to pregnancy related medical conditions. The Complainant has been employed by the Respondent for 17 years with an exemplary record. She commenced maternity leave in March 2018. She had been re-numerated on an acting basis for 4 years as Lead Technician. She was one of a number nationally who held acting positions. The Respondent had committed to the creation of panels through internal competition for the purposes of filling positions as they were being fulfilled by some staff on an unpaid basis. Prior to the Complainants absence she had applied for the Lead Post on a permanent basis but the scheduled interview was cancelled due to storm Ophelia. On receiving a new interview date the Complainant informed the Agency (hereinafter called Agency X) acting for the Respondent that due to her medical conditions related to her pregnancy that she could not attend. Her pregnancy related condition was confirmed by her Consultant and Agency X confirmed they would reschedule the interview. The Complainant subsequently followed up with Agency X and they confirmed the establishment of an Interview Panel for the posts. The Complainant was subsequently advised by a male colleague that the interview process was complete and he was taking up the post of Lead. The Complainants Union wrote to the Respondent objecting to the filling of the post as the Complainant had not been interviewed and the Respondnet stated it was unaware of the situation. The Respondent stated it would contact Agency x.
In November the Complainant was invited for interview. The Complainant was surprised to find a Representative of the Respondent at the interview. She was placed at a number on the National Panel (not identified in this decision deliberately for confidentiality). The Complainant was upset a this process and lodged an internal grievance through the grievance procedure. Her grievances were never properly addressed internally. The Complainant alleges she was discriminated against by the Respondent through the withholding of her post allowance at the commencement of her maternity leave despite she had a contractual entitlement to same. The Complainant alleges she was treated differently to a male colleague while on maternity leave than as if she was not on leave in contravention of the Act. While there was no subsequent economic loss as the issue has been rectified by the Respondent, the Respondent was still in breach of the Act and this principle has been echoed by the Labour Court where it has awarded compensation in similar circumstances.
Summary of Respondent’s Case:
The Complainat applied for promotion, was scheduled for interview and due to a storm the interviews of candidates, which was scheduled over five days, were postponed. A new date was set with the Complainant, and agreed to, but then the Complainant advised she could not attend due to maternity related reasons. The Complainant was advised to contact Agency X when she was fit to attend for interview and it was clear she would be given an interview when she was able to do so.
The filling of the Panel continued and went live in April 2018 but no appointment was made until 2019. In July 2018 the Complainant emailed Agency X to say she was not fit for interview. The Complainant was advised due to issues with the make up of the Interview Board her interview may not take place till September 2018. The Complainant was interviewed on November 19th 2018. Posts could not be offered until this process was complete. The Complainant was successful in her interview and she was added to the Panel in November 2018 and first expressions of interest were issued to successful candidates. No posts were filled until 2019.
No one was offered a post before the Complainant and she now occupies the promotional position without any loss of income.
No discrimination has taken place nor has the Complainant been treated any less favourably than her colleagues. The Respondent accepts that the interview process did suffer challenges due to a storm and Interview Panel difficulties.
An issue of underpayment was sorted to the Complainants benefit and she suffered no loss in this respect also.
Section 79 of the Employment Equality Acts, 1998 – 2015 requires that I make a decision in relation to the complaint in accordance with the relevant redress provisions under section 82 of the Act.