NUIG settles gender cases with four staff

The settlement of a long- running dispute with four female academics over promotions at NUI Galway has not ended gender discrimination crisis at the university, a union has said.

Siptu was responding to the news that a High Court action, taken by the four lecturers alleging gender discrimination in a competition for promotions in 2008 and 2009, has been resolved.

The settlement required the approval of the Department of Education and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. It is understood to have been sanctioned by the university itself soon after Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh became president in January.

Sylvie Lannegrand, Róisín Healy, Margaret Hodgins, and Adrienne Gorman had claimed they were treated less favourably on grounds of gender and/or family status in their applications for positions of senior lecturer in their respective departments.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan struck the cases out, on consent between the parties, after hearing from senior counsel Marguerite Bolger, for the women, that the matters had been fully resolved following previous adjournments to allow for mediation to take place.

In a statement issued before yesterday morning’s mention of the case in the High Court, NUI Galway said details of the agreement were confidential and none of the parties wished to make any further comment.

It said an amicable agreement had been reached with each of the women and three had been promoted to senior lecturer.

Ms Gorman was promoted to senior lecturer last November, while a fifth female academic, who claimed gender discrimination in the same promotion round, reached an agreement last September after pursuing her case in the Labour Court, represented by the Irish Federation of University Teachers.

The gender discrimination issues came to public attention after a 2014 Equality Tribunal ruling in favour of Micheline Sheehy Skeffington highlighted flaws in the promotion process.

The statement issued by NUI Galway said the four women with whom it has now reached agreement look forward to continuing work there, “and acknowledge the work of the university in addressing equality, diversity, and inclusivity for all staff”.

“The university for its part acknowledges the highly valued and dedicated contributions of these lecturers to their respective disciplines and the university community,” it said.

Siptu industrial organiser Noel Maguire said the cases could have been resolved long ago if management did not refuse to acknowledge and tackle systemic discrimination at NUI Galway.

“We are calling for the new university president Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh to get involved to address this crisis and to assist in solving the problematic industrial relations climate at NUI Galway,” he said.

Maggie Ronayne, the co-chair of Siptu’s academic section committee at NUI Galway, said its campaign has always stated that the cases were only the tip of the iceberg.

“Discriminatory and unfair employment practices faced by women and men across all grades at the university is rife.”

Ms Ronayne said the university has a serious problem with low-paid and precarious employment and most of those affected are women, including cleaners, researchers, teaching, and catering staff.


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