WRC rejects senior analyst's claim she failed to get promotion because of racism

WRC rejects senior analyst's claim she failed to get promotion because of racism

A Workplace Relations Commission officer found that Alison McDonnell had presented no prima facie evidence that she was subject to discrimination on the grounds of race concerning promotion and training in her case against the Dell-owned VMware International Unlimited Company. File Photo: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

A State employment watchdog has rejected a race discrimination claim by a black woman against an Irish unit of a US cloud computing software company.

In the case, Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudication Officer Enda Murphy has found that highly qualified Alison McDonnell - originally from the United States - had presented no prima facie evidence that she was subject to discrimination on the grounds of race concerning promotion and training in her case against the Dell-owned VMware International Unlimited Company.

Ms McDonnell is legally qualified with law degrees from the US and the UK and is also fluent in French, Spanish and German.

Ms McDonnell told the WRC that along with her fluency in those languages, she has five degrees and has over 10 years’ experience in the area that she was seeking promotion in, with over five of those years being in contract law and corporate law for large multi-national companies and law firms.

Alison McDonnell's claim

She stated that an Irish candidate was selected for the post she had applied for, that of Director of the Deal Management Team (DMT), at VMware International.

Ms McDonnell was contracted by VMWare to work as a Senior Analyst on its DMT on a fixed contract which expired in November 2019.

She alleged that a number of incidents occurred during her period of employment where derogatory comments were made to her by work colleagues in relation to her race.

Ms McDonnell said that she did not report these incidents to management or raise any grievance under the internal procedures as she had no confidence that any actions would be taken to rectify the situation.

VMWare's counter-claims

In their submission to a WRC hearing into the claim, legal representatives for VMware International stated that it totally refuted all allegations made by Ms McDonnell that it engaged in a pattern of discrimination on the grounds of race.

The company said that it has almost 1,000 employees in Ireland who come from a multitude of different ethnic backgrounds.

VMware explained that the employee population in the location where Ms McDonnell worked here “has 54 different nationalities speaking 46 different languages and is recognised for its cultural diversity”.

The company said that it is an international equal opportunities employer and is fully committed to providing equal opportunities to all its employees and to providing a workplace that is free from discrimination.

VMware stated that it was never made aware by Ms McDonnell that the alleged derogatory comments had been made to her during her period of employment. The company said that Ms McDonnell did not raise concerns or grievances with management in relation to these allegations and therefore the company was not in a position to investigate or deal with the allegations.

VMWare told the WRC that it has comprehensive policies in respect of Dignity in the Workplace and Grievances and contended that these policies were brought to Ms McDonnell’s attention at an induction which she attended on January 7, 2019, and she was therefore fully aware of their existence.

WRC ruling

In dismissing Ms McDonnell’s race discrimination claim concerning promotion, Mr Murphy stated that he accepted VMware’s evidence that Ms McDonnell was not treated less favourably than any of the other candidates on the grounds of her race in terms of the manner in which the selection process for the role of Director of DMT was conducted.

Forty-one people applied for the position and eight were short-listed for interview for the role.

The Dublin-registered VMware told the WRC that Ms McDonnell did not possess key requirements such as senior management and leadership experience in a multinational organisation and therefore was not shortlisted for interview for the post.

Mr Murphy said that he found VMware’s evidence to be “compelling” and that he has not been presented with any evidence where he could reasonably conclude that there was any element of unfairness or irregularity concerning the selection criteria applied to Ms McDonnell’s job application.

Mr Murphy also found that Ms McDonnell failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination on the grounds of race in relation to the provision of training at VMware.

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