A nursing home has been ordered to pay €150,000 to three care workers who were sexually harassed by an alcohol-fuelled 93-year-old male resident.
All three care assistants were dismissed following a flashpoint involving the resident on January 7, 2018. The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has ordered that the nursing home pay each care worker €50,000 compensation made up of €30,000 for the distress caused by the sexual harassment and €20,000 for the victimisation and penalisation by the nursing home.
Marguerite Buckley, WRC Adjudication Officer said she was satisfied that the care workers were subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace by the resident.
“This went beyond tactile touching, banter, or involuntary behaviour due to dementia.
Furthermore, she said she was satisfied the nursing home “failed to put appropriate measures in place to stop this sexual harassment from occurring or to reverse its effects".
Ms Buckley noted that a care-home case report on the 93-year-old set out that the resident went to the pub most days and drank alcohol “which may contribute to behavioural issues”.
Ms Buckley said along with the evidence of three care workers providing evidence of sexual harassment by the resident, three colleagues also provided “clear and compelling” evidence of the resident’s behaviour.
Two of the three colleagues still work at the nursing home - with one of the three alleging that the man “groped her breasts”, “kissed her arms” and “mauled her” while a second gave evidence that the resident grabbed her breast, licked her arm, and pulled her onto him.
The care worker explained at the hearing that the man’s behaviour was so bad “young carers would not go into him” to attend to him.
A third care worker described the man as being “very abusive” and described how he engaged in unwelcome behaviour such as “kissing her arm” and lewd comments about her having seven children.
The care workers said the man sexually harassed them over a period of time and the harassment consisted of physical conduct of a sexual nature including touching their breasts and foul language.
One care assistant said the man said to her that “she had a fine pair of breasts”.
The nursing home told the WRC that the man suffers from dementia while the resident denied the sexual harassment of the three.
It also stated that the man was largely bed-bound and spent only about two hours a day sitting in his wheelchair.
Concerning the January 7, 2018, incident one of the care workers said she heard the resident “kicking off, cursing to his care staff” as they were attempting to provide care to him.
She said she went into his room and noted that he had been drinking alcohol. She alleged that the resident told her that she was “no fucking better than these two bitches”.
One of the other care workers said the man grabbed her crotch "and told her to fuck off".
The man threw a glass across his room and hit his locker.
A clinical nurse manager was called to the room by the care workers, but instead of offering assistance to the three made a complaint to the director of nursing about them.
They were dismissed in December 2018 after an investigation concluded they had created a situation which resulted in the maltreatment of a resident.
The three said they had raised the allegations of sexual harassment with management on a continuing basis but no action was taken to prevent the ongoing issues and protect them from this behaviour.
The care home denied that management permitted the resident to have unlimited access to alcohol and also denied that any allegations of sexual harassment were made by the complainant or her co-workers prior to the January 7, 2018.