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Worker awarded €7,000 for 'sexually offensive' remarks

A WOMAN who suffered "entirely inappropriate" remarks from a male superior has been awarded over €7,000 after an Employment Appeals Tribunal found she was constructively dismissed.

Pamela McCann, from An Sean Bhaile, Bellaghy, Co Sligo, took the case against Homebase House and Garden Centre, Santry, Dublin, where she worked for 15 months before resigning in October 2008.

Ms McCann told the tribunal she resigned due to the stress caused by the store manager and because she lived in fear of being fired every day because their working relationship had become intolerable.

She claimed the breakdown in their relationship began in autumn 2007 when, on one occasion, he suggested that she "get your tits out" to boost sales and also told her she should wear skirts with high heels to boost her interaction with staff and customers.

In response, the store manager, who was not named, said he made comments about Ms McCann's legs, and not her body, to boost her confidence.

When Ms McCann spoke to another manager about the remarks, her relationship with the manager deteriorated and he began ignoring her and treating her differently to other staff.

She further claimed that, when she told him she was pregnant, he asked her what she "intended to do about it" which she took to be a query about abortion. A human resources representative who became involved was "quite shocked" when she heard about the store manager's remarks about Ms McCann's clothes but decided his comments were honest and he was genuinely trying to help her.

In January 2008, Ms McCann suffered a miscarriage and when she returned she said her working relationship with the manager had become "intolerable" and that he was singling her out and constantly finding fault with her. She resigned on September 28, 2008.

The tribunal said it was satisfied the store manager made "inappropriate remarks" which were "unwelcome and could reasonably be regarded as sexually offensive, humiliating or intimidating".

Irish Independent