Monday 20 August 2018

Woman from Asia gets €8,000 over 'eating cats' slur

WRC adjudication officer Jim Dolan found the woman’s complaint 'to be well-founded' and has also recommended that the company develop a code of practice on harassment and discrimination. (Stock photo)
WRC adjudication officer Jim Dolan found the woman’s complaint 'to be well-founded' and has also recommended that the company develop a code of practice on harassment and discrimination. (Stock photo)

Gordon Deegan

An Asian woman who was asked by a senior colleague at an accountancy firm whether she liked eating cats and dogs has been awarded €8,000.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has ordered the unnamed accounting solutions firm to pay the award after finding the woman was both sexually harassed and harassed by the senior work colleague and was the victim of discrimination.

WRC adjudication officer Jim Dolan found the woman's complaint "to be well-founded" and has also recommended that the company develop a code of practice on harassment and discrimination.

The woman documented a series of incidents in which she was subjected to harassment by her senior colleague before she took the decision to resign. The woman started working for the firm in May 2017 and resigned last November.

On one occasion at work on July 27 last year, the woman's senior colleague asked her: "I heard cats and dogs are the main meat sources of Asians, so do you like eating them?"

The woman told the WRC she felt disgusted and offended by these words. Earlier in her employment at the company, the same senior colleague on several occasions took unwelcomed photos of her during working hours and sent these on Snapchat to his friends.

The woman made it known to the senior colleague she was not comfortable with this and asked him to stop, but he did not appear to care and continued with this Snapchat activity.

On one occasion, the colleague showed the woman the response from one of his friends and the caption on the Snapchat response was "cute chink". The woman felt very uncomfortable and degraded by this response and felt the treatment from the senior colleague amounted to discrimination on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation and race.

On July 28, the complainant's reporting manager found the woman crying and asked her to tell her what had her so upset.

The following week, the woman's senior colleagues said they would handle the issue in an 'informal' way and asked the senior colleague to apologise to the woman. The man apologised and the woman accepted his apology. The woman handed in her resignation on November 10.

In its submission to the WRC, the employer stated the complainant was asked if she would be happy with an apology, this appeared to be acceptable and the senior colleague who had been involved apologised.

Irish Independent

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