Female Domino’s Pizza worker alleges repeated sexual harassment

Jasmine Olaru told Workplace Relations Commission she was given a name badge with a printed pair of breasts

The deputy manager of a Domino’s Pizza store thought it would be “funny” to give a teenage girl working at his shop a name badge with a picture of a pair of breasts beside her nickname, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) heard on Friday.

It was one of ten distinct incidents of sexual harassment alleged on various dates between February and September, 2022 at a store in Dublin by the worker, Jasmine Olaru, as she gave evidence on a series of workplace rights and equality complaints against Remo Foods Ltd, trading as Domino’s Pizza.

She said the shop she worked at had as many as 50 staff working at peak times, with just four or five women, and a constant, “very sexualised environment”.

“They would actually howl at women as they passed by on the street,” Ms Olaru said of the men working on making pizza.

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Ms Olaru said that on various occasions, the deputy manager threatened to “spank” her with the shovel used to scoop out pizza from the oven; told her she “should do OnlyFans” – which she took to mean she should make pornography – and asked her: “Can I watch?” when she went to change into her uniform.

“All the guys were laughing. I wasn’t laughing,” she said of the last incident.

She told the WRC she was 18-years-old and in 6th year of secondary school when she started work at the shop in February, 2022, and was rostered for more hours in the summer having finished her Leaving Certificate exams.

Ms Olaru said that on July 29th, 2022 she and a male front-of-house employee arrived to work without their name tags and were pulled up for it by the deputy manager, Mr B. The complainant said Mr B went into a back office with an assistant manager, Mr C, and another male employee, Mr G.

“They handed me mine. It had a pair of breasts on it,” she said.

Describing the exchange that followed, she said she asked: “Why would you do this?”

“Oh, because it’s funny,” she said Mr B replied.

“I’m not wearing that,” she said.

“You should wear it between your breasts,” she said Mr B replied.

“I went to the back room with the boxes and was just sitting there for an hour or two, crying,” Ms Olaru said.

On another occasion, when she finished up a shift between 4am and 5am shortly before she handed in her notice in September, 2022, she said it was arranged for her to be dropped home with a delivery driver, Mr D, – who then propositioned her.

“He asked me: ‘Would you be down for sex?’ I said: ‘No, take me home,’” Ms Olaru said.

Ms Olaru said that when she arrived to work on another occasion, a different delivery driver, Mr E, remarked to a shift manager, Mr F: “Don’t worry, you can masturbate later.”

“I felt completely sexualised, like every move that I made was sexualised. I just felt really bad working there,” Ms Olaru said.

Ms Olaru said the overall store manager, Mr A, whom she did not mention in connection with any alleged incidents of sexual harassment, had been away on holiday for around six weeks in July and August 2022, when she said several of the incidents had taken place.

She said she was “scared” of Mr A because of an incident where he had kicked a stack of pizza boxes in anger that spring – one of which struck her on the leg and left a “red mark”.

“I [saw] him pin a driver against a wall and choke him, he was [so] angry,” Ms Olaru said of another alleged incident with Mr A during the summer.

On the day she resigned, Ms Olaru said she told Mr A “everything that was happening while he was away”.

“He just laughed in my face. He called the managers ‘fucking idiots’,” she said.

After giving her notice, the complainant said she found herself clocked out from her shifts early on two occasions by her managers. Her barrister, Jason Murray BL, appearing instructed by Martin O’Donnell LLB of Morgan Redmond solicitors, argued that this amounted to victimisation for reporting harassment to the store manager.

Ms Olaru said she left for a lower-paid job at a cafe in a neighbouring suburb, where most of the staff were female. The complainant said she was “still seeing counsellors to this day”.

The company, which operates 23 Dominos Pizza stores in the Republic, insists it enjoys a complete defence to her complaint because Ms Olaru did not use its official internal complaints process, as set out in documents she had signed when she was hired.

Its position was that senior management knew nothing of what happened at the store in question until she complained to the WRC.

The chief executive officer of Remo Foods Ltd, George Bertram, said in evidence that a complaint of harassment would ordinarily be reported by a store manager to an area manager and an operations manager, and an investigation would follow – but that no such complaint came through in respect of Ms Olaru.

He said the company only became aware of the allegations when a WRC complaint arrived.

In a closing submission, Mr Murray said the respondent’s position was “Hamlet without the whole royal family”.

“Not one witness has come to challenge anything said by the complainant,” he said, telling adjudication officer Elizabeth Spelman she had “uncontested facts” before her which ought to translate directly into her findings, as the issue of credibility “doesn’t arise”.

“All we have is a picture and a name tag, but there’s no date, there’s no evidence that it was given to her by anybody, there’s no evidence that the story she says relates to this name tag is anything more than an assertion,” the company’s legal representative, Hugh Hegarty of Management Support Services, said in response.

“If there’s any truth in the story, we’re extremely upset by it, but we don’t know there’s any truth to it, because we were never made aware [of it],” he added.

On the question of the contractual documents, he said: “If she chose not to read them, ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

The adjudicator, Ms Spelman, closed the hearing on Friday afternoon and is to deliver her decision to the parties in due course.

As well as her claims of discrimination on age and gender grounds, sexual harassment and victimisation in breach of the Employment Equality Act, Ms Olaru has also referred a complaint under the Organisation of Working Time Act against the firm in respect of the provision of shift breaks. All are denied by the company.

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