Firefighter is awarded €5,000 after racist note posted in locker
Published 20/07/2010 | 05:00
AN English firefighter is to be paid €5,000 in compensation for discrimination by a city council.
The Equality Tribunal heard that Martin Mannering, form Cappamore, Co Limerick was told to leave his job because he was no longer "in Middlesbrough".
It made the €5,000 award against Limerick City Council after an anonymous note was left in Mr Mannering's locker warning him to follow the example of a former colleague, who transferred from Limerick to Dublin fire service.
The note read: "This is Limerick, Ireland, not Middlesbrough, England. Take (a named former employee's) advice."
Mr Mannering, originally from Middlesbrough, previously appeared in the Irish Independent after designing the first electric bike manufactured in the country.
He has worked with the fire service in Limerick since 2001 and claimed a number of incidents took place at work and during a training course, in which he was treated less favourably than co-workers due to his nationality.
At a hearing last May, he argued that the racist note he received in September 2006, could only have come from within the fire station.
Mr Mannering said he reported the note to a member of the Human Resources staff, who said they were "shocked and disgusted", and then met the chief fire officer with his union representative.
However, he claimed his employer failed to protect him from harassment.
Limerick City Council denied discriminating against Mr Mannering and said it employed two other English firefighters, all of whom it treated equally.
It accepted that the incident regarding the locker note did take place but claimed Mr Mannering and his union representative frustrated an internal investigation.
But in a decision just published, Equality Officer Stephen Bonnlander said the anonymous writer or writers of the note were suggesting that he should leave his job, and had linked this to his nationality.
He said the chief fire officer had allowed Mr Mannering to transfer within the fire service, but had not followed up on his harassment claim.
It said the transfer "cannot be considered to be an adequate response to his complaint".
"I find that the chief fire officer's failure to insist on an investigation, in contravention of the very clear obligations which the respondent's anti-harassment policy places on staff members of his level of seniority, amounts to a failure to take steps as are reasonably practicable to prevent the complainant's harassment," he said.
He said the council discriminated against the firefighter.
When contacted by the Irish Independent last night, Mr Mannering declines to comment on his case.