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Sunday 22 April 2018

Producer gets €40,000 over victimisation

Aideen Sheehan

RTE bosses have been ordered to take lessons in how to manage staff with disabilities after a senior radio producer was awarded €40,000 for discrimination and victimisation.

The Equality Tribunal case arose after the station repeatedly attempted to force producer Noelle O'Reilly into jobs which she was unable to do because of back problems which worsened after a serious motorbike accident in 2006.

Ms O'Reilly joined RTE in 1988 and had worked as a producer-in-charge on radio since 1998 with responsibility for a wide portfolio of programmes including elections and political party conferences.

After recuperating from her accident in 2006 she returned to work on the weekly 'Saturday View' show, but learned she was being reassigned to a live daily radio show. This was going to require longer hours in the studio in a highly pressurised environment involving continuous phone and computer use, and Ms O'Reilly resisted the appointment.

She submitted evidence to the station that she had a prolapsed disc, which constituted a disability, and RTE's medical adviser recommended there should be certain restrictions on her work duties such as limiting computer use and frequent five-minute breaks

However, in 2007, the station again tried to get her to move to a daily show two days a week as well as her weekly show -- which Ms O'Reilly again resisted on medical grounds.

The Head of Radio at the time Ana Leddy then informed her in 2008 that she was not producer in charge of special events. Ms Leddy insisted she had the right to redeploy her as a regular producer, though she would keep the pay of a producer-in-charge, which Ms O'Reilly said would be clearly seen as a demotion by her colleagues.

Ms O'Reilly then made a complaint under RTE's internal grievance procedure.

She returned to work in February 2009 and was producer of the European elections that June, but has been on a career break since January 2010.

She is planning to take redundancy from the station.

In a ruling published this month the Equality Tribunal upheld most of Ms O'Reilly's claims of discrimination and victimisation.

An RTE spokesman said: "RTE does not respond to individual HR-related queries."

Irish Independent

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