Garda wins £7,500 bias compensation

 

A GARDA who claimed that she was discriminated against on grounds of sex should receive £7,500 in compensation, the Labour Court has determined.

Garda Mary Flynn was attached to Garda HQ in Harcourt Square, Dublin in 1994 when she applied for promotion to the rank of sergeant, the court was told.

Her application was unsuccessful.

She subsequently argued that she had higher qualifications and was "more suitable" than some of the successful candidates. She claimed she was discriminated against on sex grounds and victimised and denied promotion as a result of pursuing a previous claim under the 1977 Employment Equality Act.

In July 1995 the Labour Court had referred her complaint to an equality officer who found that Garda Flynn had not been discriminated against. She appealed.

The Labour Court concluded that in 1995 and 1996 her immediate superiors had taken "an extremely negative view" of her capabilities.

"Such a negative view was not, however, continued in the 1997 reports of a subsequent superior, who wrote in glowing terms about the claimant, and credited her with having the very qualities which she was supposed to have lacked in the years before," noted the court's chairman, Mr Finbarr Flood.

It was clear to the court, said Mr Flood, that "for a certain period of time" relations between Ms Flynn and her immediate superiors "were extremely bad" - and that they held "very negative views" about her.

"These views are totally at variance with the views of a number of superior officers with whom the claimant later worked . . . No explanation has been offered for the discrepancies."

The court was conscious, said the chairman, that interviews within the Garda Siochana were "agreed procedures" and that in general they worked satisfactorily.

It was clear, however, that a problem could arise if the promotions procedure was heavily influenced by the reports of immediate superiors, particularly if these represented "incorrect, unfair or unbalanced views" of a junior colleague.

The court found that the claimant did suffer discrimination, in that she was penalised for having taken the case.