A doctor has been awarded £50,000 by the Labour Court after taking a discrimination case against the Mater and Rotunda Hospitals.
Dr Noreen Gleeson took the case after a job interview for the consultant position of obstetrician/gynaecologist in January 1996 in which a male candidate was successful. The job is a shared post between the Mater and Rotunda Hospitals.
According to a report in the Industrial Relations News, the Labour Court said it had studied the curricula vitae of Dr Gleeson and the successful male candidate and found Dr Gleeson's qualifications and experience greater than those of the successful candidate.
It said the hospitals' main justification for the appointment was that the male candidate was a "high-flyer", but there were no satisfactory supporting arguments for this.
The Labour Court also ruled that comments made during the interview could have given rise to a case for discrimination as the same comments were not made to male candidates.
One comment was made when Dr Gleeson was asked if she would be prepared to work on a voluntary basis in the Rotunda's sexual assault unit.
When she replied that she would not, one of the interviewers said: "That's fine, sink the sisters." When examining Dr Gleeson's curriculum vitae, one of the interviewers asked about the time periods in which she had had her children.
The court also heard evidence that the successful male candidate was allowed to send in an amended curriculum vitae after the closing date of the job application.
No specific criteria were formally agreed by the two hospitals before the interview, the Labour Court said, and notes written during the interview were not available. On this point the Labour Court recommended this situation be corrected for future interviews.
Dr Gleeson was one of five candidates interviewed for the post. The interview panel included eight men and one woman.
According to Ms Mary McKeon, head of communications at the Equality Authority, Dr Gleeson took her case to the Employment Equality Agency which went before an equality officer at the Employment Appeals Tribunal.
The equality officer did not find grounds for discrimination. When the Equality Authority was set up in October of last year Dr Gleeson asked for the case to be appealed to the Labour Court.