Shop assistant repeatedly called ‘big tits’ by manager awarded €40,000

Workplace Relations Commission awards woman maximum possible amount for sexual harassment

The woman told the WRC  “things were worse for her” after she made a complaint to human resources.

The woman told the WRC “things were worse for her” after she made a complaint to human resources.

 

A female shop assistant who was repeatedly called “big tits” and subjected to offensive comments by a manager has been awarded €40,000 for sexual harassment.

A Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) adjudication officer, after hearing her case, ordered she be awarded the maximum she can receive under the Employment Equality Act for sexual harassment.

Marian Duffy said the higher award is applicable “given the inexplicable failure of management to prevent the discriminatory treatment”.

She said the trauma for the worker “of recalling these events was still evident on the day of the hearing, a matter which I have also considered in assessing the amount of redress”.

She found the evidence of the complainant very credible and noted “the respondent did not call any evidence to contradict the complainant’s version of events.”

The shop was not named in the WRC ruling just published.

The woman said that after returning to work following maternity leave in November 2017, she was subjected to sexual comments from an assistant manager on a regular basis.

She alleged the assistant manager stopped calling her by her name and called her “big tits” and later on “thunder tits”.

The worker stated that over a six month period, the assistant manager also called her a thick b***h, made sexually explicit gestures towards her, made offensive comments about her breasts, asked her to engage in lewd acts and suggested she provide sexual favours for him in return for keeping her job.

The woman stated that the assistant manager frequently threatened to kick her up the arse when she was standing on a stool packing higher shelves.

The worker said she asked the assistant manager to stop a few times and he just told her to f**k off.

She said that the manager and the other assistant manager and deputy managers heard him and frequently laughed along with him.

She made a written complaint to human resources on April 29th 2018.

She went on certified medical leave that month and was prescribed antidepressant medication. She did not return to work and resigned in November 2018.

Worse

The woman alleged she was then subject to harassment by other staff members because she had made a complaint. She stated some of the staff completely ignored her and she heard that one of the deputy managers called her “a dirty little rat” and the other deputy manager made threatening comments directly to her.

She said “things were worse for her than before she made it”.

The retailer stated that the woman’s complaint of sexual harassment was investigated by it, upheld by it and the assistant manager had been suspended pending the investigation.

The retailer told the WRC that woman’s complaint “was taken extremely seriously, investigated quickly and effectively with due respect to all parties concerned and her complaint was fully upheld”.

“The perpetrator was suspended as soon as the complaint was made and was transferred as part of his disciplinary sanction. The store manager was also moved to another store,” the retailer said.

However, in her ruling, Ms Duffy rejected the retailer’s case given the “inexplicable failure of its managers to take appropriate action”.

As part of her order, Ms Duffy directed that a revised anti bullying and harassment policy be given to all the retailer’s staff.