Leaving Cert student awarded €4.5k after documenting 10 incidents of alleged sexual harassment by her boss

Leaving Cert student awarded €4.5k after documenting 10 incidents of alleged sexual harassment by her boss

A Leaving Cert student has told how her married restaurant boss would place his hands on her hands when she was marinating meat in the restaurant kitchen.

The incident was one of 10 separate alleged incidents of sexual harassment documented by the girl at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

In his ruling, WRC Adjudication Officer, Joe Donnelly, found that the girl did experience actions and behaviour that come within the definition of sexual harassment and that the restaurant owner was responsible.

The girl worked part-time as a kitchen porter at the family-owned restaurant and in response to a number of workplace claims, Mr Donnelly has ordered the restaurant to pay her a total of €4,551.

The overall award includes €3,500 for the successful sexual harassment claim.

In the series of alleged sexual harassment incidents, the student said that the owner told her that she had "lovely legs"; when passing through the kitchen he would rub his body up against her and told stall-holders on a work trip that the girl was "his bit on the side".

The student also alleged that the owner pinned her against shelves in a container and rubbed his body against her before she eventually freed herself.

Also, in a separate incident in the man’s daughter’s bedroom, she said he tried to kiss her and rubbed his body against her before she managed to push him away and told him to "cop-on" to himself.

The girl left her role in April 2018 as a result of an incident where the owner brushed some bits of rubbish down into her face.

She told the WRC that she was not going to put up with any further ill-treatment and did not return to work after April 21, 2018.

In his evidence, the restaurant owner denied acting in any way improperly or in the manner outlined by the girl in her account of the incidents.

As part of her case, the girl also produced text messages from the owner where he said: "Ok babe c u xxx" and "you no like ok I understand".

Mr Donnelly said: “This is clearly an inappropriate exchange between an employer and an employee, all the more so when the age and gender of the employee are taken into account.

Mr Donnelly said that, in his mind, it also casts doubts on the restaurant owner’s assertions that nothing inappropriate had occurred between the parties.

Mr Donnelly said: “When questioned about this text the respondent stated that he may have had a drink taken when he sent the text. This does not explain or excuse his actions.”

In his findings, Mr Donnelly said: “On the balance of probabilities, the main issue which caused the complainant to leave her employment was the harassment that she had experienced in the workplace and that consequently the complainant was constructively dismissed.

"I therefore find that the complainant was discriminatorily dismissed.”

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