Wednesday 19 September 2018

Woman awarded €46k after she was fired for refusing to have sex with boss

Timothy Laffey appeared for sentencing at Mullingar Circuit Court sitting in Tullamore
Timothy Laffey appeared for sentencing at Mullingar Circuit Court sitting in Tullamore

Gordon Deegan

A car parts company has been ordered to pay €46,000 to a receptionist who was sacked as a result of the fallout of refusing to have sex with her boss.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) made the maximum award available - two years' salary - to the woman after finding that she was sexually harassed by her boss, including an incident at the Christmas staff party where she refused to have sex with him.

WRC adjudication officer Marian Duffy said that she was making the maximum award available in order that the sanction against the firm "be effective, dissuasive and proportionate".

Ms Duffy said that she was making the award "given the completely inappropriate behaviour, and the fact the complainant lost her job because of the rejection to such behaviour".

Ms Duffy also found that the woman was subject to "a vile act of sexual innuendo" in a live web chat at the company.

Ms Duffy said that the live web chat content, which could be seen by many of the staff, "constituted an intimidating, hostile, offensive, degrading and humiliating work environment for the complainant".

In her evidence at the hearing, the woman said that at the company's Christmas party in a Kilkenny hotel in December 2016, the owner, referred to as Mr A in the WRC report, asked the woman to come to the bar and have a shot.

Mr A told her that she was doing a good job and then told her that she was gorgeous and suggested that she could have any of the men at the party, pointing at the other employees.

The woman said that she was not interested in any of them.

After that, Mr A began to make unwanted advances to her and asked her if she wanted to have sex with him.

He then proceeded to make a vulgar and inappropriate comment to her.

The woman told the hearing that she felt very uncomfortable.

She said that Mr A then gave her directions to his bedroom and he walked off towards it.

The woman told a work colleague about the incident and she said that she felt intimidated and worried about her job and the fact that the owner of the company wanted to have sex with her.

Her work colleague took her to the toilets to help to calm her down.

The incident occurred just two months after the woman started work at the firm.

She was working in a nearby petrol station where she got to know some of the personnel at the firm.

She was approached by the MD and he told her that there was a vacancy for a receptionist at the firm.

The woman said that she had a job interview with the managing director and Mr A but they did not ask her for any information about her experience or qualifications for the post in question.

She said that they just offered her the job.

She was to be paid €444 a week or €23,088 a year.

Herald

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