WIT ordered to pay law lecturer €25,000 for victimisation

College’s failure to rerun interview process said to have amounted to adverse treatment

A law lecturer has been awarded €25,000 after the Workplace Relations Commission found Waterford Institute of Technology victimised her by not re-running a recruitment process as it had promised the Labour Court.

It’s the third such finding against the institution in a string of equality complaints by law lecturer Kathleen Moore-Walsh dating back to 2002 – and brings the total compensation paid to the US national for victimisation to €45,000.

Her lawyers told the commission that in 2002 she made a complaint of discrimination on the grounds of nationality to the Equality Tribunal after not being appointed for a contract as lecturer, which was rejected by the Tribunal and later on appeal to the Labour Court.

But two years later the Equality Tribunal found she had been victimised for taking the complaint when her department head blocked her from supervising a master’s student, they said.


It ordered WIT apologise and pay compensation of €15,000, a sum later reduced on appeal to €5,000.

After this decision Ms Moore-Walsh was removed from teaching on law courses and sent to teach entry-level modules on non-law courses, and made another victimisation complaint, her lawyers said.

This was upheld again by the Equality Tribunal in a 2006 decision, which ordered WIT pay her €15,000 and also found she had faced harassment on the grounds of race.

WIT did not appeal.

The Commission was told that in 2013, Ms Moore-Walsh applied for a more senior role as deputy head of school, lost out to a male colleague, and complained internally about the involvement of a member of the college’s governing body on the interview panel.

The woman had given evidence against her when she made a previous complaint and Ms Moore-Walsh said she felt she was “biased” against her.

An external investigator found the woman should not have been part of the panel and that the interview process was unfair, it was submitted.

She again complained to the Equality Tribunal of discrimination and victimisation in July 2013 and in 2016 it ruled she had been victimised. This was set aside by the Labour Court, which said it did not have jurisdiction to hear the discrimination complaint.

Assurances in writing

Ms Moore-Walsh’s case was that she was given assurances in writing by WIT’s HR department in July and September 2013 that no appointment would be made based on the interviews earlier that year and that a new competition would be held – but this never happened.

Her trade union lodged a grievance in 2018 and she met with a HR manager and WIT’s financial controller in May and June that year.

Ms Moore-Walsh says at these meetings she was told she “had lost at the Labour Court”, she said.

The college later wrote to her to say it had been “definitively held” that there had been no breach of equality law “we are satisfied it was entirely appropriate for WIT to appoint the successful candidate” and denied her request for a new round of interviews.

Ms Moore-Walsh’s lawyers submitted to the Commission that WIT had misled the Labour Court about its intention to re-run the interview process and failed to abide by its on undertakings to their client.

It had ignored the report of an external investigator about and the Equality Tribunal adjudication officer, they said.

“The end result has been that the male candidate was appointed… based on interviews held more than five and a half years previously, where that interview process was found to have been tainted,” they submitted.

Waterford IT argued Ms Moore-Walsh has no valid claim and said she had failed to establish discrimination on the grounds of gender in respect of the promotion competition.

Its lawyers said Ms Moore-Walsh had lost out in the competition, made appeals, and that that the decision of the Labour Court should be “the end of the matter”.

They argued the complainant was engaged in an “abuse of process” and called on the Commission to dismiss her claim.

In his decision, adjudicator Breiffni O’Neill said previous rulings against WIT by the Equality Tribunal and the Labour Court “do not appear to have had the desired objective of being dissuasive, as [Ms Moore-Walsh] has once again been victimised”.

He said Waterford IT’s failure to re-run the 2013 interview process and appointing the original candidate amounted to adverse treatment and that this was “in reaction to her having taken legal proceedings”.

“There was no cogent reason presented to explain why they failed to make the appointment at any stage between January 2013 and the date of the Labour Court decision in December 2017,” he said.

However, he found she was not discriminated against on the grounds of gender.

He also rejected the argument that Ms Moore-Walsh ought to be compensated for lost earnings, saying he was not satisfied she would have been the successful candidate after placing third in the original competition.

He said it would be impractical to re-run the selection competition because of the amount of time which had passed.

Mr O’Neill ordered Waterford IT pay Ms Moore-Walsh €25,000.

He said this amount was to compensate her for “distress caused to her [by] the effects of the victimisation” and to have a dissuasive effect.

He also ordered the college to give all candidates for jobs three days’ advance notice of who would sit on their interview panel and set up a “binding appeal mechanism” for hiring decisions.