Claims News

Woman from Belfast ‘Abused’ due to her Accent Awarded €1,118 Compensation

Posted on: September 11th, 2018

A workplace industrial tribunal in Northern Ireland has awarded compensation to a woman after she was made fun of due to her west Belfast accent along with being harassed for being female.

The workplace bullying incident happened at the Four Winds pub in Castlereagh where Caroline Curran was working as an assistant manager. She advised the tribunal that she was teased and verbally abused due to her history and gender. She alleged that one manager told her she was “not in the Devenish now”, referring to a pub in west Belfast. She also informed them that another time a male co-worker shouted at her: “Would you women f*** up!… you’re never done moaning.”

Ms Curran advised the industrial tribunal: “I’m a strong person, but I found it extremely difficult to deal with mentally and I can only imagine if it was a younger woman or someone maybe not as strong as myself, what sort of state they would be in? I just didn’t want to let that go or allow them to treat anybody else like that.”

Ms Curran was employed as assistant manager of the bar in March 2017, under the supervision of manager Dermott McGinn and assistant manager Conor Magee. By July 2017 she handed in a formal grievance after becoming displeased at the treatment she was receiving and told that tribunal that Mr Magee “constantly undermines me in front of staff”.

Ms Curran also registered an official complaint in relation to amendments to staff rotas, which she said he lied about making her to feel “as if I’m going insane, sometimes he lies to me to make me think I’m wrong”. After this incident she was signed out of work for two weeks and never went back to work at the pub again. However, she was in attendance for a grievance meeting in August during which she stated that Mr Magee made pointed jokes towards her including: “You’re not in the Devenish now.”

Mr Magee refuted all of Ms Curran’s claims, stating that “he hadn’t exactly a posh voice himself”, before going on to say that he thought he had the same accent and he is also from west Belfast originally. As the grievance meeting did not concur with her complaints Ms Curran took the issue to the workplace industrial tribunal.

At the tribunal legal representatives for Four Winds said the company refuted Ms Curran’s allegations that her gender was an “overarching theme” in her complaints against co-workers and that she did not pursue sex discrimination in her officially filed grievance.

When delivering their final ruling the tribunal said that Ms Curran was, more than likely, teased due to her accent but this was not due to her sex. Along with this they added that her claims of being undermined by Mr Magee were not because of her gender.

On the allegations against Mr McGinn they found that this was due to “bad staff management”, however her sex was not the cause of this. It did rule that the comment, “Would you women just f*** up” as a clear example of sexual harassment. The workplace industrial tribunal awarded Ms Curran £1,080 (€1,118) workplace harassment compensation.

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