Office Worker Injury Solicitor
Posted: January 6th, 2020
€20,000 Sexual Harassment Compensation has been awarded to a female deli worker who was kissed on the neck against her will and pinched by a male colleague.
Following a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) hearing the supermarket has been ordered to pay the worker in question €20,000 for distress suffered, and the impact of discrimination and sexual harassment.
The Adjudication Officer Gaye Cunningham said that she found the supermarket. She said that “failed to put appropriate measures in place to stop this harassment and sexual harassment from occurring or to reverse its effects. I am satisfied that these incidents were extremely serious in nature in terms of the impact and effect they had on her personally and her working environment.” In addition to this she ordered that all those within the supermarket group with staff management duties must undergo appropriate training in its policies on harassment, bullying and sexual harassment.
After taking up the position of deli worker in May 2018, the employee told the tribunal that verbal and physical sexual harassment by a male colleague began approximately one month later. The abuse included inappropriate sexual comments about young girls who came into the shop. She claimed that when he was asked to stop, as they were clearly young school girls, he stated that they looked old enough to him.
The complainant gave examples of times where she felt personally endangered. This included when the alleged perpetrator pinned her against or near a fridge and made lewd and sexually suggestive comments to her. She told the tribunal that a manager witnessed some of the behaviour of the alleged perpetrator and when asked to take action, the manager laughed and told the man to stop as the deli worker was from Limerick and she would stab him.
The complainant told the WRC tribunal that she was the focus of almost daily sexual assault or harassment. The woman submitted an official complaint and a second female employee also made an allegation that the man touched her inappropriately. Due to this man was moved to work in the storeroom. However, after a few days there, he went absent due to illness.
At the WRC the deli manager admitted to telling the alleged perpetrator to stop as the complainant was from Limerick and could stab him. However, he said that he thought of this as a joke and did not think the complainant was offended by this.
The store owner said that he put the allegations to the male deli worker in question and he denied them. He (the owner) said that the investigation into the complaints could not be concluded as the former male deli worker had since left the country.
Ms Cunningham ruled that the supermarket not finishing its investigation to be the most egregious flaw in the whole incident.
Posted: December 5th, 2019
A former Facebook content moderator today submitted a legal action to the High Court, which is expected to be followed by more compensation claims for other moderators, due to the psychological trauma he sustained from viewing disturbing and graphic content.
Mr Chris Gray submitted the workplace trauma compensation action, stating that he was expected to view a range of inappropriate content on a daily basis and filter out disturbing content with a 98% accuracy rating. Content that was labelled inappropriate included “various scenes of people dying in different accidents … set to a musical soundtrack. [Gray] had a long argument with the quality point of contact [a senior role] about whether the music meant that the person posting it was ‘celebrating’ or whether it just counted as disturbing content.”
The claimant said that he was traumatized and under an unacceptable amount of stress due to the nature of the content he viewed and his daily work targets. Mr Gray developed He developed difficulty sleeping and said that would regularly wake during the night due to nightmares. He stated: “It took me a year after I left to realise how much I’d been affected by the job. I don’t sleep well, I get in stupid arguments, have trouble focusing.”
Mr Gray, who is being represented by solicitor, Diane Treanor of Coleman Legal Partners, is likely to be the first of a number of content moderators working with CPL Solutions and Facebook to file a compensation claim due to trauma. Ms Treanor said that content moderators based in Berlin and Barcelona have also contacted her firm with an interest in joining a lawsuit. Mr Gray remarked: “If I can get them better working conditions, better care, then that also improves the quality of the content moderation decisions and the impact on society.”
Facebook released a statement which said: “We are committed to providing support for those that review content for Facebook as we recognise that reviewing certain types of content can sometimes be difficult. Everyone who reviews content for Facebook goes through an in-depth, multi-week training program on our Community Standards and has access to extensive psychological support to ensure their wellbeing. This includes 24/7 on-site support with trained practitioners, an on-call service, and access to private healthcare from the first day of employment. We are also employing technical solutions to limit their exposure to graphic material as much as possible. This is an important issue, and we are committed to getting this right.”
UK-based not-for-profit group Foxglove is supporting the court case and Director Cori Crider said: “The reason we’ve got involved is that we think that social media factory floors are unsafe and need to be cleared up. In a decade we’re going to look back on this as we did at meat packing plants at the turn of the century. Facebook’s only going to pay attention to things when they know that they’ve got a typhoon bearing down on them. What I’d like to see is the moderators realising how much power they have if they just organise. Because let’s face it, social media as we know it could not exist without the labour people like Chris provide.”
Posted: October 15th, 2019
A facilities company has been issued an order to pay €30,000 to a female catering assistant who had her bottom pinched by a chef/manager in a series of sexual harassment incidents involving the senior male employee.
Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudication Officer, Catherine Byrne, said in her ruling: “As an instance of sexual harassment, a pinch on the bottom may not be at the extreme end of the scale, but it is well within the definition of unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature. It was also at the end of a continuum of incidents including a punch in the ribs, being sniffed at, constant unwanted touching and making offensive sexual remarks about the complainant to her husband.”
The €30,000 award represents 18 months income for the worker. The company provides catering services at the offices of a government department.
The Polish worker submitted a complaint of sexual harassment in relation to the bottom pinch to her employer on the day the incident occurred, February 1 2018. The chef/manager refuted the allegations and counter-claimed he had a sanitiser bottle in his hand and that the bottle brushed up against the female.
Following an investigation by the employer the chef’s claims were accepted, as was his explanation of other issues raised by the female worker and by the extended team.
In making her award, Byrne stated that she believed the catering assistant when she said that the chef/manager pinched her bottom. She said: “It is my view that the effect of the sexual harassment suffered by the complainant was compounded by the failure of the respondent to give any credence to her evidence and I find that, of itself, this demonstrated a lack of respect for her. To compensate for this treatment, I decide that the respondent is to pay the complainant compensation of €30,000, which is equivalent to 18 months’ wages.”
Posted: August 20th, 2019
The possibility of working conditions and duties leading to the psychological trauma of social media moderators has been highlighted in a BBC documentary.
The report detailed the working experience of Shawn Speaglem who worked as a Facebook content moderator for a third party company Cognizant, based in Florida in the United States. Despite have completed a non-disclosure agreement about his time in the role, Shawn opted to disregard this so he could speak out on the pictures and images that workers have to view due to Facebook’s moderation policies and processes.
He said: “One of my first videos that I remember looking at was two teenagers grabbing an iguana by the tail and they smashed it onto the pavement while a third person was recording it. And the iguana was screaming and the kids just would not stop until the iguana was just pasted on the ground. I’ve seen people put fireworks in a dog’s mouth and duct tape it shut. I’ve seen cannibalism videos, I’ve seen terrorism propaganda videos.”
Shawn told the documentary makers that he has suffered great stress, weight gain and depression due to the content he had to view as part of his expected duties. He said: “I felt like I was a zombie in my seat. It really gets to you because I don’t have that bystander syndrome where I’m OK just watching this suffering and not contributing any way to deter it.”
In Ireland, where the European Union headquarters of many social media platforms are located in Dublin, a legal action is being considered on behalf of moderators in relation to their working conditions. Facebook has faced actions similar to this in the past. In September 2018 Selena Scola, a former content moderator with the company submitted a legal action against the company in relation to the mental effects of the work was had to complete. She claimed that the viewing of disturbing images and videos lead to her developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during the time that she was employed at the Facebook headquarters in California. Subsequent to this two more former Facebook content moderators issued similar claims and, as a result, Facebook may now face a class-action lawsuit in relation to this issue.
Continual and repeated exposure to harmful content is an unfortunate side effect of the as part a Moderators role. These side effects can lead to psychological injury and traumatic mental damage to the Moderators over time due to the content that they have to view due to the review and publishing policy of the social media platforms that they work for.
Such trauma can have a great impact depending on the actual content witnessed, the provision and availability of proper support mechanisms from employers to allow staff to deal with work-related trauma and work expectations. The latter refers to the level of work and output required to be completed each day. It is the obligation (duty of care) of the employer to ensure that they provide a safe place of work, a safe system of work and to prevent harm to their employees.
Any content moderators who have suffered due to their working conditions, or required outputs, should look after their own health and seek help as soon as possible. it is also advisable to contact an experienced solicitor to ensure that the company is acting with a duty of care to them.
Posted: June 15th, 2019
A Garda who was injured in a violent struggle with a prisoner has been awarded a €290,000 workplace injury compensation settlement after he sustained a knee injury.
Sergeant Donal Cronin, aged 50, could complete all of his daily work duties due to the knee injury. He also claimed that he was overlooked for a number of promotions due to the injuries. The overall Garda Workplace injury compensation figure awarded to Garda Cronin was €286,630. The incident happened at Limerick Circuit Court on July 9, 2004.
Presiding Judge Justice Bernard Barton was advised that Sergeant Cronin had been successful the examinations required for promotion to the inspector rank with distinction in 2001. Regardless of this was unsuccessful in both rounds of promotion interview board competitions during 2010 and in 2014.
Garda Cronin, the Judge was informed, was appointed to the position of court presenter – a job that he could perform despite the difficulties suffered as a result of his injuries.
Sergeant Cronin’s legal counsel claimed that he was unsuccessful in his bid for promotion on both occasions due to the injuries he sustained. In addition to this the Court was told that Garda Cronin would likely need an operation for a knee replacement in the neat future.
Among those who providing evidence in Court a former chief superintendent who said that the score Sergeant Cronin had reached from the interview board for promotion was excellent but the system was “unfit for purpose” as it did not make take in to account the injuries sustained when an applicant was suffering from a disability.
This claims were argued by a sergeant garda on behalf of the minister for finance and public expenditure. He added that there was no clear thinking to say that the injuries suffered while Garda Cronin was on duty were an obstacle to the promotion to the rank of inspector.
He also said that it was not uncommon for a candidate coming from an administrative post without major operational frontline experience to be given the post of inspector and that said the promotion procedure was heavily policed. The interview board was not given the details of a candidate’s medical records as part of the promotion process – just four of 17 sergeants in the Limerick division were successful in their application for promotion to inspector, two of which were for administrative positions.
A calculated figure for the amount of compensation due to Sergeants Cronin, incorporating future loss of income due to being passed over for promotion of, of €166,630 was submitted to the court. Justice Bernard Barton awarded him (Garda Cronin) another €120,000 in general damages due to the serious injury to his left knee that lead to physical disability and ongoing pain and discomfort he had to deal with
The Judge told the Court said he was satisfied with the award and said that he felt if Sergeant Cronin reapplied for promotion, his injuries would not block a potential “a successful outcome”.
Posted: August 3rd, 2018
A former Business Development Executive for Kepak Convenience Foods Unlimited Co, Gráinne O’Hara, has been awarded €7,500 in relation to breaches of the Organisation of Working Time Act.
Ms O’Hara had to handle out-of-hours work emails, a number of which took place after midnight. These request let to extra work of over 48 hours a week on multiple occasions.
Her (Ms O’Hara’s) contract of employment with the Kepak firm stated that her working week was 40 hours. She told the Court that she normally worked close to 60 hours a week. To reinforce her claims, Ms O’Hara showed the Court emails that she sent to and/or received from her employers both before her start time and after her normal finish time.
In addition to this, Ms O’Hara showed the Court emails that she received from her employers prior to 8am. Ms O’Hara told the court she had requested from Kepak, but was was not provided with, a copy of all of her emails while she worked there.
Ms O’Hara was employed at Kepak, based at the Blanchardstown facility, from July 2016 to April 14th 2017.
In response to the claims, Kepak argued that the volume level of work given to Ms O’Hara was not unusual for their staff members. They added that no other staff members had worked longer that the 48 hours in a week.
The Labour Court ruled that Kepak did not provide all of the details of Ms O’Hara’s emails and gave no evidence to contradict her evidence.
The court found that Kepak acted in a manner not in line with the Organisation of Working Time Act by requiring Ms O’Hara to longer than 48 hours a week. They also said that Ms O’Hara’s complaint had a firm basis.
Ms O’Hara appealed the Adjudication Officer work injury compensation award of €6,240 to her. Ms O’Hara argued that this was an adequate amount of personal injury compensation “for the systemic nature of the breaches of the Act involved in the case”. The Labour Court amended the Adjudication Officer’s award by 20% to an overall figure of €7,500.
Posted: April 28th, 2018
The Workplace Relations Commission has ruled that the dismissal of a former human resources manager at a cemetery ‘both substantively and procedurally unfair’ and awarded him €47,500.
The HR manager being paid an annual salary of €51,500 when he was dismissed from his role in October 2016. He had worked at the cemetery since 1996. After being ill during March and April 2016 he went back to work and was told that a number of concerns had come up in connection with his work practices.
Following this he was placed on suspended from his role, with pay, from April to September of that year while an internal review of his actions was completed.
During a disciplinary hearing held by the deputy CEO of the cemetery on September 29, he was told he was being relieved of his position with immediate effect, due to his actions being classified as gross misconduct.
The former HR manager defended himself in the legal action, emphasising that he had a perfect disciplinary record before the ‘concern’ that were used as a basis for his dismissal.
These worries included the deletion of data from a company-owned hard drive, inadequate management of health and safety records and the way in which he dealt with the long-term absence of a colleague.
The mad claimed that he had removed the data from the hard drive due to a valid data request relating to the non-payment of bonuses for a period of two years. The data request in question had been overseen by the deputy CEO.
He also did not agree with the claim suggestion that he had mismanaged the prolonged absence of the other employee, saying that far from exposing the company to litigation or financial harm, he had actually saved the company from this.
Adjudication officer Eugene Hanly found that the criticism of the dismissed man’s actions was valid. However, he found in his favour in that there was insufficient grounds for the dismissal. He ruled that the company must pay the man €47,500 in unfair job dismissal compensation within six weeks of his finding.
Posted: January 22nd, 2014
A report produced by Trinity College´s Centre for Deaf Studies has shown that hearing impaired employees receive poor medical care after an accident at work compared to injured workers with normal hearing.
The report was prepared by Professor Lorraine Leeson as part of the EU-funded “Medisigns” project, which aims to improve communications between patients, sign language interpreters and medical professionals.
Although not exclusive to hearing impaired employees, the report – “Critical Care Required: Access to Interpreted Healthcare in Ireland” – revealed that patients with hearing difficulties are more likely to be victims of medical negligence.
The report cited several examples of incidents that have occurred recently in Irish hospitals due to a lack of communication between medical professionals and hearing impaired patients:
- One deaf patient tragically died as he tried to walk home from a Galway hospital to his home in Clifden – a distance of 50 miles.
- Another hearing impaired patient attended his local hospital with a finger injury and was subsequently prepped for heart surgery.
- A third example concerned a deaf woman who did not sleep for three nights after surgery because she was unable to communicate that she was cold.
The research also showed that hearing impaired employees receive poor medical treatment because hospitals do not always have the resources to attend to deaf patients – with one case study revealing that emergency department staff had to call on the skills of a hospitalised child who understood sign language to act as an interpreter in an emergency scenario.
A Health Service Executive (HSE) spokesperson who commented on the findings of the report said that hospital patients who are hearing impaired or deaf “have a right” to have somebody capable of signing medical terms and treatments present at healthcare appointments; and the health care provider (hospital, GP, outpatient´s clinic) must allocate the resources to attend appropriately to deaf patients.
Providing a sign language interpreter is often possible when appointments are made in advance, and that often injured workers who are hard of hearing are able to bring a signer with them; however hearing impaired employees may receive poor medical care if they are involved in a serious accident at work and no signing friend or family member is available to accompany them to hospital.
Professor Leeson argues in her report that a shortage of resources is no excuse for hearing impaired employees to receive poor medical care. She said:
“At the end of the line it is [the hospital´s] responsibility to make sure that they are gaining informed consent from their patients and to ensure that their patients understand. What we are finding is that patients are saying that they absolutely do not understand what is happening.”
She added that neglecting to provide the services of a sign language interpreter could have grave repercussions for both the patient and the hospital who failed in their duty of care: “what [would be] the cost if the hospital was found to be liable for not actually clearly communicating with their patients and there are consequences arising from that”.
Footnote: If you or somebody close to you is deaf, and has suffered a loss, an injury or the avoidable deterioration of an existing condition due to poor medical care, we understand that it may not be possible for you to use our free telephone advice service. We would therefore recommend that you complete the text box on our contact page with an email address at which we may write to you.
Posted: September 13th, 2013
An Australian office worker has made a successful workplace product liability claim for compensation against the company who imported a chair from which she fell and suffered permanent back injuries.
Terry Anne Downie from Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory sustained life-changing back injuries when, while working for the Community Information and Referral Service, she fell from an office chair after two of the five supporting plastic spokes snapped.
Being unable to move, an ambulance was called for Terry Anne and she was taken to hospital where doctors diagnosed that her immobility was due to a disc swelling at the time of her fall and touching a nerve root in her spine.
Because of the nature of her injury, doctors were unable to completely heal her and although she is now mobile, Terry Anne still suffers a permanent tingling beneath the skin of her legs, has suffered with psychological problems which have prevented her from finding a suitable job and has developed sexual dysfunction.
Terry Anne received her entitlement to injury compensation from her employers but, as she believed the accident was due to the chair being at fault, she made a private workplace product liability claim against the company that imported the chair from China – Janton – and their insurers.
Janton and their insurers denied that their product was faulty and responsible for Terry Anne´s injuries; however, at the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court, Terry Anne´s solicitors introduced an expert witness who testified that the plastic moulding on the base of the chair had “failed catastrophically” and was directly responsible for Terry Anne´s workplace accident.
Judge Master David Harper found in favour of Terry Anne´s workplace product liability claim for compensation and, in addition to awarding her Au$933,030 in general damages and Au$112,000 in special damages, ordered that Janton´s insurers repay the Community Information and Referral Service for the workplace injury compensation they had paid to terry Anne after her accident.
Posted: February 19th, 2013
A pizza delivery man, who suffered a finger injury when delivering promotional leaflets, has been awarded €7,000 in delivery man dog bit compensation after successfully appealing his case.
Arpit Khurana, aged 23, took his claim for a delivery man compensation after being bitten by an Alsatian-type dog belonging to Vincent and Bernie Fitzgerald of Portobello, Dublin, in October 2009. Arpit had to undergo a surgical procedure for his finger injury and a tetanus injection, after which he spoke to a solicitor in respect of claiming dog bite compensation for the injuries he suffered.
The dogs owners refuted Arpit’s allegations and, when the case was first heard in the Circuit Civil Court in February 2012, Mr Justice Deery ruled that Arpit had no legal right to put his hand through the letterbox to deliver the advertising material. Mr Justice Deery also therw out a claim by Arpit against his employers – Apache Pizzas Ltd.
However Ms Justice Iseult O’Malley, at the High Court in Dublin, permitted Arpit´s appeal on the basis that the flap at the rear of the mailbox did not extend the full depth of the aperture and commented “It seems to me entirely possible the dog in fact got its nose under the flap and managed to bite his hand.” She found that this was sufficient to prove that the Fitzgerald’s had been negligent.
The judge awarded Arpit €7,000 in delivery man dog bit compensation plus costs for his two court cases.