Successful Claim for Equal Pay

<font size="3">Successful Claim for Equal Pay</font>

Following a battle lasting almost two years, National Union of Journalists UK and Ireland (NUJ) member Ciara O’Brien has won a major victory in the Irish Equality Tribunal. The NUJ took a claim for equal pay against Dublin-based publishing company Computerscope Ltd., which published technology titles PC Live, Computerscope and Smart Company.

In a decision released on September 19, the Equality Officer found that Ciara was discriminated against on the grounds of gender and age and was victimised for exercising her rights under the Act. Publishing magnate Frank Quinn was ordered to pay the complainant equal pay for a period of almost two years in addition to €5,000 for the effects of discrimination. He was also ordered to pay €10,000 in compensation for the effects of victimisation following pressure being put on Ciara to drop the case.

The Equality Officer found that there was no objective justification for the difference in pay and that the company failed to rebut the NUJ’s claim of discrimination on the gender and age ground.

Nicola Coleman, NUJ Assistant Organiser who represented Ciara O’Brien at the Tribunal said: “This is a landmark case for the NUJ. It is the first Equal Pay case that we have taken in the Republic of Ireland and it won’t be last. Despite the fact that it has been illegal to pay a woman less than a man for doing the same job sex discrimination is still seen by unscrupulous employers as a valid way of cutting the wages bill. It is often difficult for a person who is discriminated against to take a stand but I think that this case proves that there is a mechanism to fight and to win”.

The Equality Officer also found that Ciara was victimised by the company. She was not offered freelance work since her redundancy and was also intimidated by a senior member of staff to withdraw the claim. In minutes of a meeting submitted by the NUJ between Quinn and a senior member of staff it was noted that Quinn had asked him to use whatever influence he could to convince Ciara not to proceed with the claim. The notes also indicate that Quinn described her as a “silly girl”.

Computerscope, who has since merged with rival CPG to form Media Team Ltd, has also been ordered to draft an Equal Opportunities policy to take into account the provisions of the Employment Equality Act.

Source: National Union of Journalists, UK and Ireland