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2
Nov 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Don't Get Caught Out: Discrimination Case Law

We are all aware of how it is against the law to treat someone less favourably due to their gender, race, religion, age etc, but this does not mean that discrimination does not still occur in the workplace. In a recent case, the Employment Tribunal (ET) ruled in favour of an employee who was discriminated against when she was dismissed while on maternity leave for refusing to accept a lesser role with a £20,000 pay cut.

The claimant claimed that when she informed her colleagues of her pregnancy, she was asked how the pregnancy would affect her long-term career goals and the all-male executive team subjected her to "offensive and humiliating" comments, announcing they should "put a wager" on how much weight she would gain during her pregnancy.

During her maternity leave the company went through a restructure which included the dismissal of several executives. The new chief executive excluded the claimant in the restructuring and the claimant discovered from HR that she was no longer on the company email distribution lists or on the new organisational chart and was at risk of redundancy. In response, the company sought to offer her a revised job description for the director of marketing role which was a lower-level role than marketing director and also involved a £20,000 pay reduction. The claimant refused the role and was subsequently made redundant by the company.

The ET upheld her claims of unfair dismissal and maternity discrimination as there was a stark difference in the treatment the claimant received compared to her male colleagues, with the only explanation being due to the fact that she was on maternity leave. The tribunal found that not only was the job description offered to the claimant copied from other websites but also that no such role existed and the retained executives did not have their salaries reduced in order to stay with the company.

Although, a claim of harassment on grounds of pregnancy and maternity cannot be brought under the Equality Act, the ET concluded that the claimant was subjected to a “humiliating and degrading environment” when her colleagues placed a bet on how much weight she would gain during her pregnancy and that this amounted to direct discrimination and the ET awarded her £25,000 plus £5,000 in interest for injury to feelings.

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Posted in Bullying and Harassment, Discrimination, Dismissals, Employment Tribunals

17
Nov 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

Be careful of discrimination in job interviews

Having a wide range of interview questions is vital to find out as much information about a candidate as possible to assess whether they have the right skills and attributes for the role. When conducting an interview you may veer off your pre-set questions when building rapport with a candidate and to do a little digging in some areas, however asking the wrong question could leave you at risk of a hefty discrimination claim.

Marital and family status, sexual orientation

Although it may seem friendly asking if a candidate has a family or children it is not suitable for an interview. Asking such questions may leave you appearing more favorable to someone who may seem more stable or someone who might not have family commitments.

Do you have or plan on having children? What childcare arrangements do you have?

The job may require some overtime at short notice. What days/hours are you available to work? Can you travel?

Place of birth, race, religious beliefs

Again, employers may think they are being friendly asking questions like: where are you from originally? Or do you get to visit home often? But be warned that any questions surrounding birthplace, background or religious beliefs can lead to discrimination.

Where were you born? What religion do you practice?

Are you eligible to work in Ireland? What languages do you speak or write fluently?

Gender, age

Asking a candidate questions about their gender or age in relation to their ability to do a particular role is discrimination. If there are certain challenges to a role you may certainly ask about their ability to handle those situations but never imply that their gender or age may affect this.

We’ve always had a man/woman in this role. Do you think you can handle it? How many years do you think you’ll have left until you retire?

What can you bring to this role? What are your long term goals?

Location, disability, illness

You may think asking questions regarding where a candidate lives and how far/long it will take to commute to work is innocent but asking these questions could cause discrimination relating to a neighborhood heavily populated by an ethnic group or social class. Also asking questions around gaps in a candidate’s employment is acceptable, but asking questions around a disability and how it may affect their capabilities to do a job is not.

How far would your commute be? Do you smoke/drink?

Are you able to start at 9 am? Have you ever been disciplined due to alcohol/drugs?

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Posted in Company Handbook, Contract of employment, Discrimination, Employee Contracts, Employee Handbook, Employment Contract, Employment Tribunals

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