Northern Ireland

Grants Electrical Services: Sex discrimination case ends with £5k settlement

A woman wearing a hard hat and hi-visibility vest at work Image copyright Getty Images

An engineer who claimed she was discriminated against at work after she got married has settled her cases against her former employer for £5,000.

Amy Verner was the only female engineer working at Grants Electrical Services Ltd, which is based in County Antrim.

She claimed she was gives office duties after her marriage and some of her projects were reallocated.

The company did not admit liability and said it did not agree with Mrs Verner's account of what happened.

Its directors said they were "committed to promoting and encouraging equality and diversity".

The Equality Commission said the company had agreed to meet it to "review its policies, practices and procedures".

'Shocked and confused'

Mrs Verner told BBC News NI that as an engineer she had been "extremely busy both on site and out a lot working directly with my customers".

She added: "When I got married and came back from my honeymoon the projects that I was working on were taken away from me and were given to other engineers.

"There was the assumption that as I was newly married I would be going off on maternity leave."

Image caption Anne McKernan said the case highlighted gender stereotyping particularly in some industries

She said that left her "shocked and confused" and felt her career had been affected.

"Having children was not something that I was going to do straight away."

Mrs Verner said she complained to management but claimed it was not dealt with properly.

She felt that she "had no other option but to leave the job and seek work elsewhere."

'Committed to equality'

Grants Electrical Services Ltd said it encouraged woman to develop their careers, adding that it had recently appointed three women to its management team.

"The company... subscribes to the view that equality means offering equal opportunity and rights to all employees to achieve and develop within their roles," it added.

Anne McKernan of the Equality Commission said the case represented the "the difficulties of gender stereotyping, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics industries".

"Clearly Amy felt that her colleagues doubted her commitment to her work," added Mrs McKernan.

"We would encourage all employers to implement an equal opportunities policy and to ensure that all staff are trained in this."

The Equality Commission said that as part of the settlement Grants Electrical Services Ltd had "affirmed its commitment to... equality of opportunity in the workplace".

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