Ex-receptionist awarded €18k for ‘effective dismissal’

A receptionist at a popular Co Clare hotel whose working hours dried up after she told her supervisor she was pregnant has been awarded €18,000.

A solicitor for the Falls Hotel Ltd in Ennistymon said they had not yet decided whether to appeal the award made to Dovile Geidrikaite after the Equality Tribunal found in her favour.

Ms Geidrikaite, originally from Lithuania, started work at the Falls Hotel & Spa in May 2009, in a permanent capacity as a hotel receptionist until Sept 2009, when she was transferred to the spa area.

About two months after starting work, she repeatedly requested written confirmation of her terms of employment, but they were not forthcoming.

On Apr 4, 2010, she notified her supervisor that she was seven weeks pregnant. Her supervisor told her it was too early to tell the general manager. However, two days later, she received a phonecall from the general manager to advise her that no hours were available for her at the hotel, despite the fact that it was about to enter its busy period.

Ms Geidrikaite said she was never rostered for work at the hotel again. A week later, she was paid outstanding entitlements, including holiday pay.

Solicitors for the Falls Hotel argued that it was a family-run, family-owned hotel that prided itself on family values.

In a submission to the tribunal, they argued Ms Geidrikaite was told in early April business was quiet and that costs had to be reduced. They said Ms Geidrikaite was not given her P45 because it was hoped that , once business picked up, she would be given further hours.

Ms Geidrikaite was the only employee not given any hours during the period in question, and no temporary lay-off was agreed or notified to her.

A part-time receptionist was recruited in July and worked just 20 days until the end of August, which was the busiest time of the year. The hotel said Ms Geidrikaite “would have been offered these days if she had not proceeded down another route”.

However, the Equality Tribunal found the Falls Hotel had “effectively dismissed” Ms Geidrikaite and that the dismissal “was related to the complainant informing the respondent that she was pregnant”.

She was awarded €18,000 in compensation for discriminatory treatment on the grounds of gender, equating to about 76 weeks’ salary.

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