Northern Ireland

Equality Commission employee in £15,000 settlement

Lidl logo
Image caption Lidl settled a case with a woman from the travelling community

A woman employed by the Equality Commission as a legal officer received a £15,000 settlement after claiming sex discrimination, it has emerged.

The details are contained in a list of cases released by the commission.

They document the 64 cases supported by the Commission in 2008-09, including one which meant it was effectively supporting a case against itself.

54 of the cases were settled prior to hearing at tribunal or court.

Audit

The legal officer alleged the Commission breached its own recruitment and promotion procedures by paying her a lower salary than male employees between 2002 and 2004.

The payment was made without an admission of liability with the commission maintaining that its starting salary policy "was, and is non-discriminatory".

The commission agreed to conduct an internal pay audit in line with the Equal Pay Code of Practice and the guidance in the Equal Pay Review Kit, and to advise staff of the results of this audit.

A woman from the travelling community received £500 in a settlement from the supermarket chain Lidl after one of its checkout assistants at a store in Londonderry refused to serve her in January 2008.

The woman was eventually served by another member of staff but when she returned to the store a few days later was told by a security guard that she was barred.

The two sides settled the case with Lidl affirming that it did not wish to discriminate against the woman on the grounds of race and would welcome her custom in future.

Another woman who said she was victimised by her employer after refusing to work on Sundays received £10,000 after taking a case to the Fair Employment Tribunal.

Sabbath

The woman, who was a born again Christian, worked at Knockan Lodge Private residential nursing home in Ballymoney for six years before her inability to work on Sunday became an issue.

She said that she was increasingly rostered to work on a Sunday and was told that she would have to miss attending church if necessary.

As her relationship with her employer deteriorated, a manager photographed her lying on a sofa at work.

The complainant denied she had been sleeping and pointed to the fact that she had a long-term back injury and wore a support to work.

Eileen Lavery, Head of Strategic Enforcement for the Equality Commission, said: "The Commission supports cases on a strategic basis and one of the key reasons is to clarify aspects of the law where there is some uncertainty.

"A number of the cases included in the review which ran to hearing were significant in adding to our understanding of the law.

"Some of the cases are highly technical and can take some time to resolve.

"However, the majority of cases are now resolved within a year of proceedings being lodged."

Compensation totalling £515,981 was paid out to 59 assisted complainants in employment and goods facilities and services cases.

The commission also dealt with a number of assisted cases in the area of education, where compensation is not applicable, but reasonable adjustments were made for disabled students.

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