Work Injury Claim
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: November 6th, 2019
A garda whose finger was broken by a person being deported quit the force 10 years early because of depression after the incident has been awarded approximately €76,000.
The Garda had initially take the work injury compensation state against the State for €310,893 in relation to a loss of earnings. In addition to this there was a claim filed seeking damages for personal injuries related to the physical damage to his right small finger around 20 years ago, Mr Justice Michael Twomey said in a High Court compensation ruling.
Judge Twomey said the loss-of-earnings figure had been claimed on the basis that the incident in which his finger had been broken had led to him becoming depressed and being forced to retire from the force.
The decision was taken to anonymise his compensation application and referred to the garda only as Garda B as the case involved very personal details about the garda’s family.
The Judge said that said Garda B had received two injections and no other medical treatment for the fracture and made a complete physical recovery. The main stumbling point in the case remained the extent to which Garda B’s psychiatric injuries could be attributed to the incident when his little finger had been fractured.
Judge Twomey said awards must be fair both to a plaintiff and defendant and modest damages should be awarded in relation to minor injuries, moderate damages for middling injuries and severe injuries should result in damages which were distinguishable from catastrophic injuries.
Due to this he awarded €42,699 for loss of earnings, €10,000 for physical pain and suffering as a result of his fractured finger and €10,000 for psychological pain and suffering caused by his depression arising from the incident.
Judge Twomey also awarded the garda €8,180 for out-of-pocket medical expenses in relation to both the physical and mental suffering and €5,100 for loss of earnings due to absence on sick leave because of the fracture alone – a total sum of €75,981 damages. The damages had also to be proportionate to the general cap of €450,000.
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: September 10th, 2019
€10,200 in constructive dismissal compensation must be paid by to a long-serving Bus Éireann driver after a ruling by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
Dan Fitzpatrick said that he has been left ‘deeply traumatised’ over the way he was constructively dismissed by the bus company. Mr Fitzpatrick had been working for Bus Eireann for 16 years in the Galway region. The company told him that he would need to step down from his position or face being terminated due to an incident involving an elderly passenger in November 2017.
In the incident in question Mr Fitzpatrick said that he physically escorted an elderly passenger off a Galway city route bus service after an angry exchange between the two and repeated requests from Mr Fitzpatrick for the man to depart the bus. Once the gentleman was off the bus Mr Fitzpatrick got back into his driver’s seat and proceeded to drive off.
The day following the incident, Mr Fitzpatrick was called to his supervisor’s office where he viewed three different CCTV recording of what occurred and was immediately suspended pending a subsequent disciplinary hearing.
If he chose to remain in his position and be fired and he would have no longer have qualified for his €10,000 to €15,000 retirement gratuity. due to this he retired on November 27, 2017, after what he described to the WRC as “a flawed and unfair disciplinary investigation” by Bus Éireann. He then submitted a claim for constructive dismissal under the Unfair Dismissals Act with the WRC.
WRC Adjudication Officer, Ray Flaherty said that Mr Fitzpatrick had no choice but to retire when he was told failure to do so would lead to him not qualifying for his retirement gratuity and referred to the gratuity ultimatum to Mr Fitzpatrick as “unreasonable and unacceptable”.
In his ruling, Mr Flaherty said that comments made to Mr Fitzpatrick by a supervisor that “there is no excuse for this behaviour” in the incident and “you will never work in the company again” backed up Mr Fitzpatrick’s claim that fair process was not followed.
Bus Éireann were not present at the WRC oral hearing but a Bus Éireann representative commented: “Bus Éireann do not comment on individual cases and we have no further comment”.
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: October 17th, 2018
Following being attacked by his no brother-in-law outside a Letterkenny nightclub, a Garda has been awarded €4,000 workplace injury compensation.
Garda Fintan Smith told High Court Judge Justice Michael Twomey that he was attacked and headbutted by the man. The initial attack left him with a black eye and nose bleed and lead to him falling on the footpath. Following this Garda Smith was sitting in the front seat of the Garda car and the attacker restrained in handcuffs in the back seat, awaiting transfer to Letterkenny Garda Station. At this point Garda Smith was kicked to the side of his head by the same man.
Garda Smith informed Judge Twomey that he no longer maintains a relationship with his now brother-in-law. He does have excellent relations with the other members of his wife’s family. Earlier in 2017, Garda Smith married his girlfriend and his attacker had been invited to the celebration but he did not attend on the day. In the aftermath of the incident Garda Smith said that he does his best to avoid any family occasion if he knows that his brother-in-law is also planning to be present.
Ms Fiona Crawford, legal counsel for Garda Smith, told the High Court her client had sustained an injured nose. X-rays showed that Garda Smith had not sustained a bone injury.
The incident, the High Court was told, had lead to a major amount of tension between Garda Smith and his then girlfriend. He was unable to attend work for a month due to the embarrassment the episode caused him. He said that he felt a lot of anger for a while after the attack. He then requested, and received, a transfer from Letterkenny to Ballybofey Garda Station. Garda Smith told the Judge that his now brother-in-law had been a known troublemaker when the attack occurred and was not the type of person who would respect the gardai.
In awarding workplace compensation of €4,000 for the injuries Garda Smith suffered, Judge Twomey stated that he believed Garda Smith’s opinion that brother-in-law had a negative attitude towards gardai.
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: February 19th, 2018
A €25,000 Garda Work Injury compensation award has been approved following a head-butt attacked on a Wexford based Garda who suffered terrible snoring problems.
Sergeant Noel McSweeney experienced the injury to his nose when he was on duty. McSweeney’s snoring disturbed his wife’s sleep and he had to sleep in another room man times.
Barrister Ellen Gleeson told presiding Judge Justice Michael Twomey that, when when the incident occurred in May 2012, Sergeant McSweeney had been working on a missing person search.
Mr McSweeney said that the missing woman had been found in a car where she was intoxicated, possessing drugs and acting aggressively. She was taken into custody following this.
Speaking about the incident Sergeant McSweeney said: “She jumped back and threw her head backwards, hitting me in the nose and upper teeth”. He added that he suffered cuts to four of his upper front teeth and the line of his nose had been damaged. Mr McSweeney also suffered a restriction of the airflow through his nose along with a deviated septum in the assault.
Sergeant McSweeney also admitted that he was not conscious of the problem but did have to sleep in the spare room of his residence due to his snoring problems. He added that he only suffered minimal slight discomfort and, hence, he chose not to have surgery.
Judge Twomey referred to the Book of Quantum in assessing the amount of Garda Accident Compensation to be paid. He approved a compensation award of €7,500 be paid for the minor dental damage along with €18,000 nose injury damages.
Posted: December 4th, 2017
Garda Sean Kelly (31) who is due to be wed this coming weekend, has been awarded €30,000 Garda Workplace Injury Compensation following an assaulted where he suffered a severe cut to his mouth.
Garda Kelly told the High Court that he is still sensitive in relation to the laceration on his upper lip and remarked to Mr Justice Bernard Barton he was still paranoid regarding the star-shaped scar. He was still able to find amusement with the presiding judge that he may have to wear some make-up when he gets married to his fiancé next Saturday.
The incident happened while he was at work on January 7 2012. As part of his duties, Garda Kelly had been called to a house in Finglas. Here a man, who had just been released from a psychiatric institution where he had been treated, was threatening to self harm. Garda Kelly was accompanied by two colleagues on the call in question
Garda Kelly told the court that the individual, who had swallowed a lot of non-prescriptive medication, had locked himself in his bathroom. From there he was threatening to throw himself out the bathroom window. Garda Kelly was struck on his mouth with a toilet brush holder, which lacerated his lip, when they tried to apprehend the man.
Garda Kelly had to be rushed to Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown to tend to the bleeding. When he was treated, a portion of porcelain was found in his upper lip. X-rays clearly displayed that he had not suffered any major fractures.
He was also given an anaesthetic injection and received seven stitches, a number of them on the inside of his mouth. When the scar later became infected, he had to follows a course of antibiotics until the infection had cleared up. The scar on the exterior of his lip was identifiable at close quarters.
Barrister Derek Ryan, representing the Minister for Public Expenditure, remarked to the High Court that, due to conflicting medical reports, he did not believe Garda Kelly had suffered Post Traumatic Stress to the degree that it would justify an exceptional workplace compensation award.