Civil servant paid €80k to read paper

A SENIOR civil servant earning more than €80,000 a year was left with nothing to do for five years except read the paper and surf the internet after he complained of bullying and harassment by his supervisor.

Tom Barrett’s idleness has cost his employer – the Department of Defence – €40,000, after the Equality Tribunal ruled he had been victimised following a complaint he made in 2003.

Mr Barrett, employed at the grade of assistant principal officer, told the Equality Tribunal he was left in an office by himself at the department’s decentralised premises in Galway with “no meaningful work to do”, and an increasing social and interpersonal isolation from his colleagues.

From 2005 onwards, when he sent a complaint to the department’s personnel office, to the date of the hearing in February this year, Mr Barrett said he was given no work whatsoever.

Mr Barrett had previously served in a number of finance-related roles.

Mr Barrett also submitted that his situation had led to social exclusion among his colleagues and that he felt he was “treated like a pariah”.

The equality officer said he was satisfied Mr Barrett had been left to “rust out”.

The department argued Mr Barrett’s isolation “arose out a duty of care towards the complainant”.

The equality officer awarded €40,000 to Mr Barrett for the stress endured during the time of his victimisation. The award is tax-free.

He also ordered the department to provide Mr Barrett with meaningful work, appropriate supports and to facilitate his re-integration into the department’s workforce.

A spokesperson for the Department of Defence said they intended to appeal the award. “We feel we have a very strong case,” she said.

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