The Irish Times - Tuesday, August 17, 2010 by GENEVIEVE CARBERY
A FORMER general manager at a Dublin city centre hotel has been awarded €100,000 by the Equality Tribunal for victimisation and gender discrimination.
The tribunal found that she was denied access to promotion, was forced to take redundancy and put under pressure to waive her right to legal action.
Denise Batt was employed as a general manager at Comfort Inn Hotel, Parnell Square, between 2003 and 2007.
The tribunal heard that her employer had planned to open a new hotel nearby which would be jointly managed with the Parnell Square hotel.
Ms Batt was told that she would be the preferred candidate for this management job. During her maternity leave she was refused an application for a four-day week but was granted an extension of maternity leave. In February 2007, shortly before she returned to work, the human resources manager told her she would return in a lesser management role.
This manager said she should “be relieved” as there would not be as much pressure on her with a baby to look after. When she objected it was agreed that she would remain in the general manager role.
When she returned to the hotel in March 2007, her colleague was also working as general manager, undermining her own role.
He had been appointed to the management role for the new hotel, but it was not ready yet. Ms Batt did not have the opportunity to interview for the position.
The tribunal heard that it would have been normal for an e-mail to be sent out inviting applications and Ms Batt had complained at not being permitted to interview.
In July 2007 she told her employer she was pregnant. The hotel changed ownership and in August 2007 the new employers told her they were to make her redundant.
She was hospitalised following this meeting due to blood pressure as her medical team feared she might miscarry. Two days after she was released from hospital on bed rest her supervisor called to her home.
He offered her a letter waiving her rights to take legal action in exchange for an opportunity to go on maternity leave. She did not sign this and was sent redundancy papers the following day.
The tribunal described as victimisation the communications to Ms Batt when she was ill and the pressure to waive her legal rights. It also found that she was discriminated against for promotion on gender grounds and by the refusal to grant parental leave.
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