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.