Posted: September 11th, 2018
An workplace industrial tribunal has awarded a personal injury compensation after she was mocked due to her west Belfast accent and harassed for being female.
The workplace bullying incident took place at the Four Winds pub in Castlereagh where Caroline Curran was employed as an assistant manager. She told the tribunal that she was mocked of and verbally teased due to her background and sex. She claimed that one manager told her she was “not in the Devenish now”, in reference to a pub in west Belfast. She claimed that another time a male colleague yelled at her: “Would you women f*** up!… you’re never done moaning.”
Ms Curran told the industrial tribunal: “I’m a strong person, but I found it extremely difficult to deal with mentally and I can only imagine if it was a younger woman or someone maybe not as strong as myself, what sort of state they would be in? I just didn’t want to let that go or allow them to treat anybody else like that.”
Ms Curran was hired as assistant manager of the bar in March 2017, under the supervision of manager Dermott McGinn and alongside fellow assistant manager Conor Magee. By July 2017 she submitted a formal grievance after becoming displeased at the treatment she was receiving and told that tribunal that Mr Magee “constantly undermines me in front of staff”.
Ms Curran also filed a formal complaint in relation to amendments to staff rotas, which she said he lied about causing her to feel “as if I’m going insane, sometimes he lies to me to make me think I’m wrong”. Following this incident she was signed out of work for two weeks and never returned to work at the pub again. However, she was present for a grievance meeting in August during which she testified that Mr Magee made pointed jokes towards her including: “You’re not in the Devenish now.”
Mr Magee disagreed with all of Ms Curran’s allegations, stating that “he hadn’t exactly a posh voice himself”, before going on to say that he thought he had the same accent and he comes from west Belfast. As the grievance meeting agree with her complaints Ms Curran took the matter to the workplace industrial tribunal.
At the tribunal legal counsel for Four Winds said the company disagreed with Ms Curran’s allegations that her gender was an “overarching theme” in her complaints against co-workers and that she did not pursue sex discrimination in her formally submitted grievance.
When delivering their ruling the tribunal said that Ms Curran was, in all likelihood, mocked due to her accent but this was not due to her gender. Along with this they added that her allegations of being undermined by Mr Magee were not due to her gender.
On the claims against Mr McGinn they ruled that this was due to “bad staff management”, however gender was not the cause of this. It did regard the comment, “Would you women just f*** up” as a clear instance of sexual harassment. The workplace industrial tribunal awarded Ms Curran £1,080 (€1,118) harassment compensation.