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Belfast caterer pays chef £22,500 in discrimination settlement

04 November 2008 by

A Northern Ireland catering company has agreed to pay £22,500 compensation to a chef in settlement of a discrimination case.

Gillian O'Rourke, 28, was working as a chef for Mount Charles Catering of Belfast when she was subjected to sectarian chanting, sexual harassment and threats of violence.

Ms O'Rourke complained to management about the intimidation but then went to a Fair Employment Tribunal when she felt her complaints were not being taken seriously enough.

Anne McKernan, Director of Legal Casework at the Equality Commission, which backed the case, said:

"Gillian sought to address the harassment she had experienced within the company's own structures. She was not satisfied however that the internal grievance procedure dealt adequately with her complaints.

"She believed that the disciplinary action taken against the staff member concerned was inappropriate due to the nature and gravity of his conduct. She was disappointed that he was not moved from the workplace and instead she was forced to continue to work alongside him."

McKernan said employers had a duty of care to their employees and added: "They must ensure that robust and clear policies are in place to prevent instances of harassment and that they deal with them clearly and speedily when they do occur."

Mount Charles Catering has now agreed to meet the Equality Commission to review its policies on discrimination.

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By Andrew Smith

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