Revenue employees win age discrimination case

 

Four employees of the Revenue Commissioners who were discriminated against because of their age were congratulated by their union colleagues at the weekend for taking a successful case against their employer.

The Public Service Executive Union, which represents the four men, said it was the first age discrimination case taken in the civil service. An equality officer's decision in favour of the men was upheld recently by the Labour Court.

The four, Mr Liam O'Mahoney, Mr Terence Smith, Mr Michael Lovett and Mr Tomás Ó Tuama, were passed over for positions on a panel of officers suitable for enforcement duties after a competition. The Labour Court heard that three of the four had been ranked as "exceptionally suitable" for the positions by a principal officer after an assessment, and the other as "highly suitable".

All four, however, were turned down following a subsequent interview. A total of 53 people applied for positions, and there was no upper limit on the number of people who could be placed on the panel.

Statistical evidence presented to the court on the men's behalf showed that 83 per cent of the candidates aged 52 and under who had been ranked as "exceptionally suitable" by the principal officer were offered positions on the panel.

Of those aged 53 and over, however, only 17 per cent of candidates given that ranking were successful in the interview.

Prof Don Barry, professor of statistics at the University of Limerick, told the court that on that basis there was strong evidence of a difference between the two observed success rates based on age. The four men were all in the 53-and-over age bracket.

A statistical analysis challenging the discrimination claim was offered by the Revenue Commissioners. The court, however, said Prof Barry's analysis was more apposite to the case concerned, and the evidence supported the union's contention that age was a factor in the selection process.

The four were all employed as higher executive officers at the time of the competition.

The Revenue Commissioners were ordered to take a number of steps to undo the discrimination and to pay each of the four €2,000 compensation.