A Dublin based food company has been ordered to pay €2,500 compensation to a catering worker for posting an Instagram post that caused “a grievous sexual orientation discrimination”.
The food company deleted the offending Instagram post within three minutes of posting it and sought to make amends with the worker on July 15th 2018.
The worker lodged a claim of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation under the Employment Equality Acts and his failure to get a job with the catering company.
Ordering the company to pay the worker €2,500, WRC Adjudication Officer, Michael McEntee staled that it is accepted by all parties that an incident of grievous sexual orientation discrimination took place on the 15th July 2018.
Mr McEntee stated: “Even as a “once off lapse” as argued it was a serious incident. There is no getting away from this.”
Mr McEntee staled that it has not been possible for the food company to remove the overhang of possible discrimination from the early July interactions with the catering worker during later July and August 2018.
In his report on the case, Mr McEntee doesn’t disclose the details of what he described as the ‘egregious remarks’ contained in the message.
However, the catering worker stated "that a major act of discrimination involving the use of very derogatory language regarding his sexual orientation took place".
The employer apologised for the Instagram post and Mr McEntee ruled that the usual six month time limit in lodging a claim didn’t apply as the catering worker was an in-patient in a well-known psychiatric hospital from November 27th 2018 to June 5th 2019.
The catering worker told the WRC that in the aftermath of the incident on July 15th 2018, the employer during July and August was on a “damage limitation” exercise and had never seriously intended to offer the worker a position in a new venture.
The food company told the WRC that the Instagram post was deleted within three minutes and was most sincerely regretted.
The company stated that the recruitment of part time staff was always going to be problematic and linked to the vagaries of the business.
The company cited plans for an outlet at the Dundrum Shopping Centre where the company had tendered.
In good faith, the company believed it was successful and began to consider possible staff including the complainant only to lose out at the last minute.
The owner stated that conversations with the complainant by managers regarding the possibility of work in Kildare and Dundrum had to be seen in this light.
The company stated that the contacts during the July August period were never discriminatory in any fashion or as perfunctory as alleged.
The company stated that the incident of the 15th July was deeply regretted and was a once off lapse.