Legal actions over alleged gender discrimination at NUI Galway adjourned for mediation

By Ann O'Loughlin

Legal actions by four female lecturers against National University of Ireland Galway alleging gender discrimination in a competition for promotion have been again adjourned while efforts continue to resolve the dispute through mediation.

Claire Bruton BL, for the lecturers, told High Court Deputy Master Angela Denning today the mediation is ongoing and she was seeking a two-week adjournment of the cases by consent. Ms Denning granted that adjournment.

The cases arise after Dr Sylvie Lannegrand, Dr Rosin Healy, Dr Margaret Hodgins and Dr Adrienne Gorman made unsuccessful applications for promotion to positions of senior lecturer under a promotion process operated by the college between October 2008 and April 2009.

The four say they were treated less favourably by NUIG on grounds of gender and/or family status.

They want various declarations including the promotion process breached their contracts of employment and contractual entitlement to gender equality along with provisions of the 1997 Universities Act, the Employment Equality Acts and EU law.

They also want orders promoting them to senior lecturers from July 1, 2009, and associated adjustments to their salaries, pension rights and other benefits effective from that date. They are also claiming damages.

NUIG denies the claims, pleads the lecturers have no cause of action against it in the High Court and the Workplace Relations Commission is the proper body charged with determining complaints of employment discrimination.

Previously, the High Court granted NUIG’s application for a hearing of preliminary legal issues concerning whether the lecturers' claims can be dealt with by the High Court or must be first determined by the WRC and/or Circuit Court.

A date for that has yet to be fixed and depends on whether the mediation succeeds or not.

Lawyers for the lecturers had argued the issues would be most appropriately dealt with at a full hearing as the cases raises "complex issues of Irish and EU law" and "matters of national public interest".

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