Sunday 25 February 2018

RTE presenter Frances Shanahan loses her equality case

Mary Coughlan interviewed by Frances Shanahan
Mary Coughlan interviewed by Frances Shanahan
Frances Shanahan interviewing Michael O'Kelly for RTE Radio

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

AN RTE presenter who claimed she was "sidelined" for promotion because of her age and sex has failed to win her case at the Equality Tribunal.

The tribunal has decided not to uphold a claim by Frances Shanahan, who worked on 'Farm News', 'Countrywide', 'Drivetime' and the 'Mooney Show', that she was discriminated against at work.

Ms Shanahan claimed she was victimised because she did not get equal pay to three colleagues doing similar work.

She said she had been passed over for promotion in favour of younger colleagues with less experience. In 1998, she was appointed to a full time position as a reporter and presenter. She claimed her salary did not reflect her experience, and she worked as a producer on 'Farm News' and 'Farm Week'.

In November 2009, her union said she should be the stand-by presenter for 'Countrywide' and in March 2010 she joined the team, but claimed she was not given "a meaningful role".

She said interviews and features she worked on were put on hold and others were edited and shortened unnecessarily.

Ms Shanahan said in January 2011 she was "passed over" by not being given the opportunity to present the 'Countrywide' radio show when the regular presenter was on leave.

The broadcaster claimed the Head of Regions denied her the Producer-in-Charge pay scale because she was a woman.

She rejected a one-off payment of €1,500 in 2006 and a second offer of €10,000 to settle her salary claims.

She argued that she should be placed on the Producer-in-Charge scale.

She said she was given the role of researcher on the 'Mooney Show' after being "side-lined" for promotion in the agriculture programming department. After she protested, she was moved to work on 'Countrywide' and 'Drivetime'.

RTE argued that she had not submitted claims within time limits laid down by employment legislation. It also argued that she was never a producer.

It said the stand-in presenter it hired in 2011 had worked for the station before and was not in a similar role to Ms Shanahan.

Equality Officer Hugh Lonsdale said Ms Shanahan had withdrawn her claim in relation to equal pay.

He said the only incident that occurred within the timeline for claims laid down in legislation was the appointment of a stand-in presenter in January 2011, who was a younger female.

The equality officer said he accepted a "consistency of evidence" from witnesses in senior positions at RTE Radio 1, that she was not considered suitable to present an hour-long live radio programme.

Mr Lonsdale said she failed to establish a "prima facie case of discrimination".

RTE refused to comment on the case.

Irish Independent

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