Adoptive father compensated for discrimination by his employer


An adoptive father who claimed he was unlawfully discriminated against by his employers, the Dublin Institute of Technology, on grounds of his sex is to be paid £6,500 in compensation, the Labour Court has recommended.

The court accepted the then College of Commerce/City of Dublin VEC "was doing no more than implementing the directive which it had received from the Department of Education, which appeared to be in line with the law as it was then understood", concluded its deputy chairman, Mr Kevin Duffy.

He found that DIT lecturer Mr Brian Doolan suffered discrimination contrary to Sections 3(1) and 3(4) of the Employment Equality Act, 1977 - in terms of Section 2 (a) of that Act - by being refused adoptive leave by his employers in April 1991.

But the DIT had no discretion in the matter, Mr Duffy said, and there was "no element of malice" that could justify a "punitive component" in the calculation of compensation. "While the claimant did not suffer any pecuniary loss in consequence of being denied adoptive leave, he did suffer emotional loss and distress for which he must be compensated," Mr Duffy added.

The case was originally investigated by an equality officer of the Labour Court who found the employers had not discriminated against Mr Doolan. Mr Doolan appealed that decision on the grounds that the equality officer had "erred in law".

The appeal hearing commenced on February 3rd, 1994, but was adjourned pending the outcome of a Supreme Court case involving Mr Brendan Patrick O'Grady and Telecom Eireann. The Supreme Court gave its verdict in that case on October 7th. In the light of the Supreme Court judgment, the DIT conceded when the hearing resumed, it could no longer contest Mr Doolan's complaint.