An Post worker wins age-discrimination case

A €90,000 payout has been handed to a former postal worker discriminated against because of his age, it emerged today.

A €90,000 payout has been handed to a former postal worker discriminated against because of his age, it emerged today.

The Equality Tribunal ruled James Dunne was discriminated against when he inquired about the Owner-Driver Transition Scheme, which included a voluntary severance package.

The 61-year-old – who worked with the company for 26 years – complained that management had told him that he did not qualify for the scheme.

An Post maintained that the scheme did not discriminate on grounds of age.

Mr Dunne, a driver with the firm for 24 years, took up a driving duty in Dublin 14 in 1993.

Ten years later the company restructured the owner-driver module in agreement with the Communications Workers Union (CWU).

Mr Dunne said he was told employees in his position would receive a €120,000 severance payment and a three-year contract at €50,000 per year.

He added that when five of the jobs were advertised the following year he was told – through his union – that he was too old.

An Post, represented by Anthony Kerr BL, said the scheme was made available to all full-time drivers in the Dublin branch of the CWU, of which the complainant was a member.

It meant the owner-driver would be a self employed contractor, owning and maintaining his or her own vehicle, and would be responsible for the delivery of a defined service to Transport Limited, which is contracted by An Post to provide a parcel delivery service.

He added the respondent had no record of the complainant completing either an estimate-of-benefits form or an application form.

“Given that the complainant has not made any application, formal or otherwise, the respondent disputes the entitlement of the respondent to bring the complaint,” he said.

But An Post also argued that at the time it was suffering what they called an “overloss” of €32m, and the increased cost of allowing those over 60 access to the scheme would have increased the loss by 2%.

Equality Officer Mary Rogerson ruled that Mr Dunne was discriminated against in relation to the scheme

In a separate case, the Employment Equality body also upheld a complaint by Catherine O’Keeffe, who has a hearing impairment, that she was dismissed by By Pass Stores on grounds of disability.

Despite the respondent rejecting this assertion, stating that her dismissal was lawful because of her poor performance – in particular her alleged failure to carry out instructions when requested – she was awarded €17,000 in damages, of which €7,000 related to loss of earnings.

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