independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Woman lecturer triumphs in sex bias court fight

A SENIOR lecturer at Dublin City University who suffered sexual discrimination when she was turned down for a professorship, should now get the job backdated and €10,000 compensation, the Labour Court has ruled.

The court said Jane Horgan should be appointed associate professor with effect from November 14, 2002, with full retrospection of salary and benefits from that date.

In a determination that has just become available, the court also says DCU, if it has not already done so, should set out clearly what the minimum requirement should be in respect of the gender composition of interview panels.

The university should also introduce a policy obliging all members of interview panels to make contemporaneous notes of interviews and which should be retained for a minimum of a year.

Ms Horgan claimed she was discriminated against at all stages of the selection process after she applied for the job in April 2001 simply because she is a woman. DCU denied any discrimination. While she failed to be appointed, Ms Horgan said four other male candidates shortlisted along with her did get associate professorships.

Ms Horgan, a statistician specialising in accounting, took her case to an equality tribunal where an investigating officer found in her favour. The finding was appealed to the court by DCU. The court determination says that out of a total of 47 top academic posts at the university only five are filled by women.

Associate professors are eligible to be members of the Heads and Professors Group, which is the university's decision-making body. An associate professor gets paid €10,000 to €15,000 a year more than a senior lecturer and is entitled to apply for promotion to professor when they have served three years -- while senior lecturers are not.

Ms Horgan told the court that three of the other four candidates, having got to the grade of associate professor in 2002, are now full professors, and she is still a senior lecturer.

Distress

She said she had suffered physical and mental distress and was a victim of DCU "failing to adhere to its own or any fair and non-discriminatory procedures, its showing bias and ignoring custom and practice". The court found she was "on paper the most qualified of the interviewees". The court dismissed DCU's appeal. It said the university "had not discharged the onus on it to prove that, on the balance of probabilities" the failure to promote Ms Horgan was "in no way tainted by discrimination, whether conscious or unconscious".

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