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.”