Background to Complaint
The claimant alleged that she was discriminated against on the gender and/or race grounds when she was treated considerably less favourably than an Irish male lecturer who made a comparable bullying complaint.
She also alleged that she suffered victimisation for having brought previous equality cases to the Tribunal in that her confidential communications made pursuant to an informal oral bullying complaint were communicated to various members of the management of the Institute of Technology, issues surrounding her interactions with the external examiner were discussed at a meeting at which she was not present, her lecturing duties were altered and she became the subject of a proposed academic inquiry.
The claimant started working at the Institute of Technology in September 1997.
Towards the end of July 2004, she was advised that she was to work from another campus and deliver different (entry level) lectures.
The letter was sent by the Head of School, which was unusual, as this was normally a responsibility of the Head of Department and the task done at the beginning of term.
The letter was sent on the same day as another case at the Equality Tribunal involving the same parties became public on local radio.
The claimant considered her transfer from pure law classes to be a demotion, punishment and retaliation for having sought equality under the equality legislation.
She is a citizen of the United States.
Her requests to have her previous lecturing hours and campus location reinstated were ignored.
Furthermore, the claimant claimed she had duties such as course development for the core law courses effectively removed or denied to her, and course leadership was denied to her.
At the beginning of June 2004, the claimant had submitted an oral complaint to the Human Resources department that she had been bullied by the external examiner for her course.
Notwithstanding many follow up enquiries, Human Resources replied in September that the complaint was an issue for the Registrar and Head of School.
On 9 September 2004, the claimant e-mailed Human Resources stating that she had not received any communication concerning her informal bullying complaint of 4 June 2004.
The following day, she received an e-mail stating that he had sent her complaint to the Registrar, as it “is primarily an academic matter”.
It was towards the end of October the same year that the claimant received a reply from the Registrar as to how the complaint would be addressed.
The following year the claimant submitted a further complaint of being bullied against the same external examiner and on this occasion Waterford Institute of Technology concluded that an issue of marking of papers was inextricably linked to this complaint and the two issues would be taken together.
The claimant also submitted a number of other claims;
- Sexual harassment by unruly students
- Being prevented from being course leader on a new course
- Delay in revising her hours downwards on being appointed TUI branch Secretary
- Less favourable treatment in relation to bullying complaint
- Exclusion from law course development
Conclusion of Equality Officer that claimant was Harassed and Victimised
The Equality Officer found that the claimant was harassed on the race ground and that the claimant was victimised by Waterford Institute of Technology.
However, the Equality Officer found that the Institute of Technology did not discriminate against the claimant on the gender or race grounds. The factors influencing the Equality Officers decision were:
- While there was a change in the method of selection of a course leader it would have similar consequences for all lecturers
- Meetings were conducted where issues involving the claimant were discussed, which didn’t have minutes, and there was lack of clarity around who attended
- No progression on her first bullying complaint was made
- Attempts were made to incorporate her second bullying complaint into an academic inquiry
Consequently, the Equality Officer ordered:
- The Institute of Technology to pay the claimant €15,000 compensation in respect of the acts of victimisation
- The Institute of Technology to proceed to investigate the complaint of bullying in accordance with their Respect and Dignity Policy on receipt of written clarification from the claimant in the light of the passage of time that she wants her complaints investigated
Case: Kathleen Moore Walsh v Waterford Institute of Technology, Equality Tribunal, 2006