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€12k payout for Muslim sacked by Specsavers day after terror attack

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Police officers and shocked concert-goers close to the scene of the Manchester Arena bombing, which took place in May last year

Police officers and shocked concert-goers close to the scene of the Manchester Arena bombing, which took place in May last year

Police officers and shocked concert-goers close to the scene of the Manchester Arena bombing, which took place in May last year

A County Donegal branch of Specsavers has been ordered to pay €12,000 in compensation to a Muslim woman who was sacked the day after the Manchester terror attack last year.

Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) adjudication officer Emer O'Shea found that Letterkenny Specsavers discriminated against optical assistant Amina Ferrah on the grounds of religion when it sacked her on May 23, 2017.

Ms O'Shea said she was satisfied that Ms Ferrah's dismissal in advance of the standard three-month review constituted less favourable treatment and that her non-Muslim colleagues had not been subjected to such treatment.

The night before Ms Ferrah was sacked, terrorist Salman Abedi murdered 22 people in a suicide bomb attack at an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena.

Ms Ferrah claimed that she was sacked on discriminatory grounds "as a knee-jerk reaction to the fact that she was clearly identifiable as a Muslim".

Headscarf

She always wore her headscarf to work and her uniform and name badge had been ordered for her by her employer the day before the bombing.

Ms Ferrah submitted to the WRC that her employer "may have been overly concerned about public sentiment following the attack and the impact it might have on their business".

She started working at the outlet on April 3, having previously worked for a Specsavers in the UK for two years.

On the evening of May 23, she said she was asked to attend a meeting with the company directors, where she was told "it's not working out", "you are not what we expected" and "you are not interactive enough on the shop floor".

Ms Ferrah said she was told that her skills lay more in pre-testing "and we will have to let you go".

She asked for a chance to prove herself but was told "no" and that she would be paid up until the end of the month.

Ms Ferrah said she was very surprised as the feedback she had received up until that meeting was very positive and she was fitting in and working well.

The store firm strongly denied the claim of discrimination and told the WRC that Ms Ferrah was employed less than two weeks after a terror attack at London's Westminster Bridge.

However, she told the hearing that the London attack had to be distinguished from the Manchester attack in terms of the media coverage.

The firm said the decision to dismiss Ms Ferrah was purely down to performance.

It alleged that she lacked crucial skills which were necessary to carry out her role.

However, in finding that the firm did discriminate against Ms Ferrah, Ms O'Shea said no records of any performance deficits on the part of Ms Ferrah were presented.


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