Monday 22 July 2019

Insurance worker claims she was discriminated against due to her age

Siobhan O'Higgins leaving the Employment Appeal Tribunal on Adelaide Road where she was taking a case against Liberty Insurance
Siobhan O'Higgins leaving the Employment Appeal Tribunal on Adelaide Road where she was taking a case against Liberty Insurance

Emma Jane Hade

A woman who worked for Liberty Insurance has claimed she was discriminated against because of her age.

Siobhan O'Higgins said she resigned from her role in the claims department of Liberty Insurance in January 2014 as she felt the company was building a "body of evidence" against her, an Employment Appeals Tribunal has heard.

Ms O'Higgins, who worked in the company's Dublin office, told the tribunal yesterday that she felt she was forced out of the company after a number of incidents occurred in 2013. She handed in a letter of resignation on January 22, 2014.

"Eventually if I didn't leave, they probably would have fired me," Ms O'Higgins said.

The tribunal heard that when Quinn Insurance was sold to Liberty Insurance several years ago, a number of redundancy packages were offered. Subsequently, the workload of the people who left the company was then absorbed by remaining staff members, she claims.

The tribunal was told that Ms O'Higgins raised this issue with management as she feels the terms of her contract were "amended" as a result.

Ms O'Higgins is a trained solicitor and has a degree in economics and politics.

The tribunal heard that she spent a number of years working in banking in London and Dublin and she became an apprentice solicitor in 1998.

She qualified in 2002 and the tribunal was told that she then spent time working in positions between various legal firms and in banking.

Ms O'Higgins told the hearing that she felt she was in a role that "should have had promotional opportunities".

The tribunal heard Ms O'Higgins was told by management that there were issues with her performance and that there was a "personality clash" between her and another manager.

Ms O'Higgins also told the tribunal that she was "put under pressure" in relation to her performance and said she was "very uncomfortable working in the environment".

She said she asked to be moved from her position on the floor and claimed that one manager alleged that she was involved in illegal activity, which she strongly refuted.

Senior counsel for Liberty Insurance, Tom Mallon, said his clients will deny accusing Ms O'Higgins of participating in any illegal activity.

He questioned Ms O'Higgins on why she didn't challenge her superior who allegedly made the claim. He also challenged her over allegations she made about being discriminated against on the basis of her age. The tribunal continues in July.

Irish Independent

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