Claims News

Catering Employee Awarded €30k after Being ‘Sexually Harassed’ by Chef

Posted on: October 17th, 2019

An order to pay €30,000 has been made in relation to a facilities company after a female catering assistant claimed she had her bottom pinched by a chef/manager in just one of a range of sexual harassment incidents involving the senior male member of staff.

Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudication Officer, Catherine Byrne, commented when she was delivering her decision: “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 Adjudication Officer calculate the €30,000 award as 18 months income for the worker in question. The firm provides catering services at the offices of a government department.

The Polish worker submitted a complaint of sexual harassment to her employer 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. Following this the employees filed the complaint to the WRC.

When she was making her final ward, Byrne stated that she was of the opinion that the catering assistant was telling the truth when she said that the chef/manager touched her bottom. She remarked: “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.”



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