Gay man wins discrimination case

Tue, Jan 22, 2013, 00:00

A gay man who was discriminated against and victimised at the credit union where he worked has been awarded €24,000 by the Equality Tribunal.

In his judgment published today, equality officer Gary O’Doherty found the complainant had been discriminated against “on the sexual orientation ground”.

The man said he had been referred to constantly by one manager as “one of the girls” , while another named colleague often referred to his sexuality and expressed a keen interest towards his sex life.

He stated in particular that she often made comments like "do you like taking it up the back passage?”

The complainant had started working at the credit union in April 2008.

He said that in July or August that year a named colleague told him the only reason he had been employed was that his family had a long association with the credit union. It was also said his association with Mr A, a member of the board of management (BOM) and also the treasurer, was the reason he had been employed.

There were comments that the man was having sexual relationship with Mr A, which were unfounded.

Mr O’Doherty said it was “clear” the comments were made and this was “a matter that clearly should have been dealt with by the BOM.”

Another BOM member, Mr E, referred to the complainant in the presence of other staff members, as “queer”. Mr O’Doherty described these comments as “entirely unacceptable” and constituted harassment on the ground of sexual orientation.

Investigations by the employer into the man’s complaints were inadequate and comments by Mr E constituted a “clear indication that he had already prejudged the outcome of the 'investigation’.”

Mr O’Doherty ordered the credit union to pay the complainant €8,000 in respect of discrimination and €16,000 in respect of victimisation. The award is not subject to tax.

The Gay Lesbian Equality Network welcomed the judgment describing it “a sharp reminder to all employers of their duty to protect staff from discrimination”.