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€1,118 Personal Injury Compensation Payout for Woman Mocked because of her Accent

An industrial tribunal has awarded compensation to a woman who was mocked because of her west Belfast accent and also harassed for being female.

The incident occurred at the Four Winds bar in Castlereagh where Caroline Curran was working as an assistant manager. She told the tribunal that she was made fun of and verbally abused due to her background and gender. She alleged that one manager told her she was “not in the Devenish now”, referring to a bar in west Belfast. On another occasion she claimed that a male colleague shouted at her: “Would you women f*** up!… you’re never done moaning.”

Ms Curran said: “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 took up the position of as bar assistant manager in March 2017, under manager Dermott McGinn and alongside fellow assistant manager Conor Magee. By July that year she raised a formal grievance after becoming unhappy 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 complaint in relation to alterations 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 she was signed off sick for two weeks and never returned to work. However, she attended a grievance meeting in August during which she submitted that Mr Magee made pointed jokes like: “You’re not in the Devenish now.”

Mr Magee denied all of Ms Curran’s claims, saying that “he hadn’t exactly a posh voice himself”, before going on to say that he thought he had the same accent and he was from west Belfast. As the grievance meeting did not hold up her complaints Ms Curran took the matter to the industrial tribunal.

At the tribunal legal representatives for Four Winds said the company refuted Ms Curran’s claims that her gender was an “overarching theme” in her complaints against colleagues and that she did not pursue sex discrimination in her official grievance.

When delivering the final judgment the tribunal said that Ms Curran was, more likely than not, made fun of because of her accent but this was not due to her gender. Additionally it said that her claims of being undermined by Mr Magee were not because of her gender.

On the allegations against Mr McGinn it said this was because of “bad staff management” but gender was not the cause of that. It did find that the comment, “Would you women just f*** up” was a clear occurrence of sexual harassment. The tribunal awarded Ms Curran £1,080 (€1,118) compensation.