Disabled employee awarded €7,500 after recordings of him shared for colleagues’ merriment

Mr Price Branded Bargains accepts WRC ruling and will not be appealing the decision

One of the  Irish-owned Mr Price Branded Bargains shops: the company was ordered to pay €7,500 in compensation to the employee.

One of the Irish-owned Mr Price Branded Bargains shops: the company was ordered to pay €7,500 in compensation to the employee.

 

A store manager at a discount retail chain shared three recordings of a disabled employee on a staff WhatsApp group for the merriment of colleagues.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has now ordered the Irish- owned Mr Price Branded Bargains pay €7,500 in compensation to the employee in a discrimination case brought by him under the Employment Equality Act.

The sales assistant’s disability arises from a road traffic accident in 2004 where he sustained an acquired brain injury resulting in reduced motor skills.

On becoming aware on December 1st, 2015 of the circulated video on a WhatsApp group at work, the un-named employee became traumatised and had to go on work-related stress leave and hasn’t returned to work since.

The adjudication officer in the case, Ray Flaherty, found that three video recordings of the man at work were shared by the store manager with staff “who had no operational need or entitlement to review the material”.

Mr Flaherty said it was clear from the footage “that the recordings of the complainant gave rise to some merriment among those who were viewing it”.

Dignity at work

In his ruling, Mr Flaherty found that “it is clear from viewing the recordings that not only was the complainant discriminated against on the grounds of his disability, but his basic right, and that of any employee, able or disabled, to the provision of dignity at work was seriously undermined”.

Originally employed at Mr Price on a supported employment scheme, the man only became aware of the recordings made on August 12th, August 14th and September 5th 2015 from a former colleague who had since left Mr Price.

Mr Price Branded Bargains stated that one recording showed the complainant conversing with a customer and a second recording showed the man behaving in a manner, on the shop floor, which posed a health and safety risk for himself and others.

At the WRC hearing in Limerick, the man said he was extremely upset when the circulated videos were brought to his attention.

In her evidence, the store manager said she recorded the company CCTV footage from her personal phone as her work phone wasn’t working and the footage was to be sent to the human resources manager and the area manager.

Unfortunately, when sending it via Viber she pressed the wrong number on the phone and sent it instead to another staff member, she said.

This was the only occasion on which CCTV video footage of the complainant was circulated, she added.

According to a submission from Mr Price, the store manager had always previously kept the area manager appraised of the complainant’s performance and by way of illustration she had sent example CCTV clips to him for review.

Mr Price Branded Bargains told the hearing that when the complainant brought the video footage to the company’s attention, the firm apologised and disciplined the store manager.

In his ruling, Mr Flaherty stated: “While there is a certain plausibility, in relation to the store manager’s account of how one recording was inadvertently shared with another staff member, there were clearly two other recordings, which were similarly shared and for which no explanation was provided.”

A spokeswoman for Mr Price Branded Bargains, which operates 37 stores across the country, said: “We note the contents of the adjudication and will not be appealing the decision.”