Tuesday 14 August 2018

Lecturer (61) wins €30k and top job in UCD age discrimination row

UCD has been instructed to promote Dr Anne Cleary
UCD has been instructed to promote Dr Anne Cleary

Gordon Deegan

The country's largest university has been ordered to pay €30,000 to an academic after it was found to have discriminated against her when passing her over for promotion.

In the case before the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), UCD has been ordered to pay sociologist Dr Anne Cleary €30,000 and promote her retrospectively to senior lecturer from February 15, 2015 after finding UCD discriminated against the academic on the grounds of age.

WRC adjudication officer Stephen Bonnlander has also ordered that Dr Cleary be paid in full the necessary adjustment in salary and any other benefits applying to the post and that her pension entitlements and payments be upgraded accordingly.

In the post of lecturer since 1996, Dr Cleary was 61 when passed over for promotion.

The successful candidate for one of the senior lecturer posts, Dr Cleary cited in her discrimination case, was 20 years younger.

Dr Cleary argued she was discriminated against on the grounds of age, since older lecturers were significantly less successful in promotion.

UCD denied the promotion of the successful candidate in the College of Human Sciences was in any way tainted by discrimination and the lecturer cited by Dr Cleary secured better marks in the application process.

As part of her case, Dr Cleary supplied a data table showing that by age a steadily falling percentage of applicants were promoted to senior lecturer: 69.7pc of applicants in the 30-39 age group, 51.7pc in the 40-49 age group and 48pc in the 50-59 age.

Mr Bonnleader reported: "Most notably, not a single of the four candidates in the 60-65 age group, to whom the complainant belongs, was promoted."

In response, UCD replied that the fact that none of those over 60 achieved promotion was not statistically significant, as their number is too small to allow any such conclusions.

In his findings, Mr Bonnlander found whilst the fact "that no applicant over 60 achieved promotion may not be a statistically significant fact due to small numbers, it remains a fact nevertheless and thus acceptable as evidence".

On her academic credentials, Dr Cleary reported she had the highest research funding in her school, been able to employ post-doctoral staff, supervised three PhD theses and one Master's thesis by research and been awarded a Fulbright scholarship to Berkeley and Harvard Universities in 2009.

Dr Cleary also provided evidence from within her professional environment, which showed younger colleagues promoted over her were by no means significantly better qualified.

The WRC report recorded that at the time of the competition the successful candidate for one of the senior lecturer roles cited by Dr Cleary had no Fulbright, had only secured research funding of about €5,000, not employed any post-docs, and had significantly fewer publications than Dr Cleary.

Mr Bonnlander said that despite this differential in achievements, the successful candidate had retained her mark of "excellent" in teaching and learning which made it possible for her to obtain promotion.

In contrast, UCD's University Committee on Academic Appointments, Tenure and Promotion reduced Dr Cleary's mark for excellence in teaching below the required standard, making her ineligible for promotion.

In his ruling, Mr Bonnlander also found UCD did not discriminate against Dr Cleary on the grounds of gender.

Irish Independent

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