Woman to follow up sexual harassment victory with High Court action
“You are only letting on to be a little Virgin Mary to your mammy”
According to the account of proceedings published by the tribunal, Ms A, who was 17 when she started in B&Q in Naas, was told by her human resources manager and her supervisor not to speak to her mother, who worked as a cashier in the store
According to the account of proceedings published by the tribunal, Ms A, who was 17 when she started in B&Q in Naas, was told by her human resources manager and her supervisor not to speak to her mother, who worked as a cashier in the store.
Shortly afterwards, two supervisors, whom the tribunal identified as Mr B and Mr C, began making inappropriate comments to her, such as: “You are only letting on to be a little Virgin Mary to your mammy. We know what you really are”, and “You are nothing but a little hypocrite, you little Virgin Mary”.
The pair allegedly asked her whether she was a virgin, whether she was sleeping with her partner and whether she was performing oral sex.
Ms A’s mother also told the tribunal the two men would make inappropriate sexual remarks about her daughter to her on the shop floor, saying she would return from her holidays pregnant.
On January 15th, 2010, leaving drinks were organised for a member of staff who was being transferred to another store.
The tribunal heard evidence that the behaviour of Mr B towards Ms A “descended into extreme inappropriateness, starting with explicit remarks involving the mechanics of sexual intercourse, and questioning the complainant as to whether she had intercourse with a specific named man, followed by attempts to force the complainant’s legs apart while pushing his body on to her.” Mr B did this twice.
When she reported the incident, her manager’s initial response was that it happened outside work and could not be dealt with internally, but Ms A was able to state that B&Q Ireland’s policies did allow for an investigation.
In evidence to the tribunal, B&Q Ireland accepted the incident had taken place, but denied otherwise discriminating against Ms A. The tribunal found the evidence against Mr C to be inconclusive.
An investigation was carried out into Mr B’s conduct. He was suspended and then demoted.
Ms A signed off work after hearing Mr B would be returning following suspension. She was offered mediation between herself and Mr B by the company but turned it down, eventually resigning in October 2010.
Tribunal officer Stephen Bonnlander found B&Q Ireland had gone about investigating Ms A’s complaint with “professionalism and integrity” but the measures they took to deal with it were “inappropriate and insufficient”.
He criticised B&Q Ireland’s failure to transfer Mr B to a different store given that the company had several within the greater Dublin area.