Language school employee awarded €42,000 for biased treatment by employer – The Irish Times


A woman who worked at an English-language college in Dublin has been awarded more than €42,000 after complaining of victimisation, racial discrimination and unpaid commissions.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has ruled in favor of Melissa Angarita Cardenas, a Colombian national, in an action against her former employer, SEDA College.

One of Adjudicator Marie Flynn’s findings was that Ms Cardenas had been treated less favorably than two other staff members who shared Brazilian and Venezuelan nationality with members of management.

“It appears from the evidence adduced by the plaintiff that [two named women]who were of the same nationality as the members of management continued to work during the lockdown, while the complainant, who was of a different nationality, did not,” Ms Flynn said.

“The Complainant has demonstrated that she was treated less favorably than [the two women] was when they were in a situation comparable to that of the plaintiff within the meaning of the laws. The only difference between the complainant and the comparators was that the comparators were of a different race.

“Fictional work”

Ms Cardenas was awarded a total of €42,849 for what the WRC said were eight ‘substantiated’ complaints opposed by a ‘work of fiction’ by her employers over an unpaid commission.

The claimant held several positions at the college, including reception, marketing and student support, from October 3, 2016 until her resignation on July 21 last year.

Regarding the larger award of €20,000 for her victimization claim, the committee decided that SEDA College had been made aware of Ms Cardenas’ claim to the WRC while she was on sick leave.

Ms Cardenas alleged she was then repeatedly victimized from February 2020 when she returned to work. The WRC learned that she returned to find her email account blocked and it remained blocked until she resigned. She had argued that it was a way for the college management to obstruct her case before the WRC and that it had a negative impact on her ability to prepare for her hearing.

She maintained that she had suffered “unfavorable treatment” from the college, which left her “stressed and intimidated” because she had filed a discrimination complaint with the WRC.

Complaint of victimization

In her decision, Ms Flynn said: ‘In the absence of any cogent evidence from the defendant, it is not possible for me to determine whether there was any other reason for the adverse treatment other than the reason offered. by the complainant. Accordingly, I conclude that there is a causal link between the Complainant’s submission of the Complaint Referral Form to the WRC and the adverse treatment alleged.

“I find this victimization claim to be well-founded and I order the defendant to pay the plaintiff €20,000,” she said.

In relation to the complaint that Ms Cardenas was treated less favorably than others because of her race, Ms Flynn awarded her €10,000.

In her decision, Ms Flynn also wrote that the respondent had submitted a “work of fiction” in an attempt to prove that Ms Cardenas had received all of the money owed to her. Ms Cardenas was further awarded €12,849 in relation to her separate claims of unpaid commission, change of contract terms, subsequent no contract and penalty.


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