The case of Savilla Teixeira Godinho v Rmc Promotions Limited Templeogue Afterschool Academy ADJ-00025205 concerned a claim for discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race by a Brazilian employee (the claimant).
The claimant in this case was invited for interview for a role at Templeogue after school academy and it was explained to her that the role would involve working in the kitchen preparing food for the children and to serve the food. The claimant explained that her level of English wasn’t perfect and it was confirmed by the school that this wasn’t a problem. Upon commencement of the role, the complainant became aware that the role was different that what was advertised as she was instructed to look after the children in the playroom and help them with homework. She again explained to the school that she felt her english was not strong enough but she was assured it was fine. The complainant felt she was being constantly shouted at within earshot of the children and that one day she was told by RC…”both of you go work on your english…what language am I speaking Japanese?”.
The complainant gave evidence that on one of the days RC was shouting her name whilst she was trying to prepare food for the children and she was verbally shouted at for not minding twins in the playground. When the claimant tried to explain she gave evidence that she was hit in the mouth and that RC held his hand over her mouth stating “dont speak, just listen”. The complainant was very upset and explained to work colleagues what has happened. The next day the complainant went to work as she was afraid that she would not be paid to cover her rent. When she informed her employer that she was going to the guards, she stated she was told “It’s not worth it, I am Irish, you are a simple Brazilian and your english is shit”. The complainant subsequently received a text from RC informing her that there was no work for her the following week.
Findings and Conclusions
The Adjudicator observed that the complainant was alleging that she was discriminated against by the Respondent on grounds of race and harassment and set out the law under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 (as amended) and in particular Section 6 which provides
“Section 6(1) For the purposes of this Act, discrimination shall be taken to occur where, on any of the grounds in subsection (2) (in this Act referred to as “the discriminatory grounds”), one person is treated less favourably than another is, has been or would be treated.
(2) As between any 2 persons, the discriminatory grounds (and the descriptions of those grounds for the purposes of this Act) are”
(h) that they are of different race, colour, nationality or ethnic or national origins (in this Act referred to as “the ground of race”),”
It was confirmed that the burden of proof to establish the facts upon which discrimination arose was on the complainant and this was set out in the case of Melbury Developments Limited v Arturs Valpeters IEDA09171
The Adjudicator noted that the complainant had made a complaint to the Gardai but no charges had been brought by the date of the hearing. She also observed that “RC when answering questions put by me was very evasive. I found his evidence to be less than credible. On numerous occasions he amended or changed previous evidence given and was unable to clarify certain matters when put to him. On that basis I prefer the complainant’s evidence which was corroborated in parts by documentary evidence”.
The Adjudicator found that the complainant had established a prima facie case of discrimination on the grounds of race and harassment and was awarded €10,000.
Employment Law Case Tip
Employers need to be very careful in treating any non Irish employees differently from Irish employees. It is also very good practice to ensure any contracts of employment/terms and conditions and/or Employee Handbook/Policies and Procedures are in a format/language which the employee understands. In some cases this may require the documentation to be translated into the employee’s native language.
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