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€37k award for Woman in Sexual Harrassment Case

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has awarded a €37,000 payout to a woman who claim that she was sexually harassed and had felt pressurised to massage antibiotic cream into her employer’s back and groin.

The woman, a former food service worker, took a legal action in relation to the the payment of wages, unfair dismissal and sexual harassment against her previous employer. The claims were found to be credible by the adjudication officer presiding over the case. The officer also disregarded  the findings of an investigator, who was hired by the employer, who had found that there was no bullying or harassmen previously.

The woman in question advised the WRC that she was subjected to “ongoing bullying and harassment and intolerable working conditions during the course of her employment which had a detrimental effect on her health and well-being”. It was claimed that she worked 25-30 hours a week but was only paid €200 regardless of the hours that she worked.

Additionally, she advised her solicitor that there had been attempts to bribe her into withdrawing her complaints and also that her previous co-employees were obstructed from speaking out on her behalf. She claimed that she was diagnosed with a mental health condition, and was on medication for depression while employed in the role.

The WRC was advised by a witness that the employer “deliberately belittled and put down the claimant”, while another witness stated it was “common knowledge that the claimant was on medication for her mental health issues and that the respondent was constantly on her back and that she was often crying”.

The case for defence rested on the evidence of an investigator that the employer hired when the woman requested her P45 in September 2015. Despite concerns regarding the impartiality of the investigator the woman agreed to the review being carried out.

The WRC adjudicator upheld the claim of sexual harassment, and awarded the complainant in question €17,450. Overall she was awarded €37,450 sexual harassment compensation.