Working lives… August 21, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics.
Reading this grim case of sexual harassment where a 17 year old woman was subjected to an appalling campaign against her by two supervisors at her place of work it shows how vulnerable workers can be in very ordinary work environments. One wonders if her mother had not worked in the same company whether she would have felt able to contest the remarks which appear to have been made across the best part of two years. As if to underline the sense of impunity that the perpetrators felt they had they also made comments to her mother about her.
The judgement is interesting:
In a judgment issued yesterday, equality officer Stephen Bonnlander found that while her employer had investigated the incidents of sexual harassment properly, it should have moved her supervisor to another store.
Mr Bonnlander was satisfied that the woman had given her employer ample time to address her concerns so she could return to work, but the retailer had failed to do so.
He found that the retailer did discriminate against her by not preventing her sexual harassment and ordered that her award not be subject to tax.
And the worker was awarded €29,756, or the equivalent of two years salary. Frankly that too tells us something about wages in this economy.
A couple of questions on foot of the case emerge… for example, why was one of the perpetrators of the sexual harassment not moved by the company once it discovered what was going on and the worker had engaged in the process of trying to get it dealt with? That too is deeply suggestive of the problems that arise as regards imbalances in power relationships in work environments (and having worked in contexts where managers were abusive to me personally I know how that can demoralise and depress a worker). Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, why is the name of the retailer not made public. According to the IT it is a ‘multinational retail chain’ so one presumes that the individual anonymity of the worker wouldn’t be breached if it were made public who the company was.
But in a way what is most telling is that it offers an insight into an – admittedly – extreme example of just how workplaces are often impervious to oversight and this has implications not just in relation to sexual harassment but all forms of coercion. This is something that is – given the time we spend in workplaces – remarkably unconsidered.
Still, a victory.