A secondary school teacher in his 60s who was asked in a job interview if he had the “energy” for the role at “the stage he had reached in his career” has received more than €3,000 in discrimination compensation. by age.
The Industrial Relations Commission has upheld a complaint by Laurence Dunne under the Employment Equality Act against Franciscan College Gormanston in Co Meath.
Dunne claimed he was discriminated against on the basis of age when he applied for the position of caomhnóir, or home teacher, at the school for the academic year that began in September 2019.
Franciscan College denied any discrimination.
The Labor Relations Commission heard that Mr. Dunne, who was 60 years old when his case was adjudicated in March 2021, was rejected in favor of the only other candidate: a colleague some 30 years his junior.
The position would have required an extra four hours of work a week on top of his current role as deputy head of the school and came with an allowance of €3,300, the hearing was told.
Dunne said he was asked in the interview how, given “the stage he had reached in his career,” he would fulfill the duties of the additional role and “a question related to his energy.”
He said he gave a “long and detailed answer explaining how physically fit he was” and explaining that he was in good health, and that his interviewers did not interrupt him to say that was not the question.
He argued that it was therefore reasonable that the references made to his “energy” in the interview, and the related discussion, were a question related to his age.
The successful candidate for the caomhnoir post was “considerably younger” than he was, he added.
After being told she wouldn’t get the job, she appealed through the school’s grievance procedure, she said.
Dunne said the director told him during a grievance meeting that there had been “serious procedural irregularities” and they agreed to adjourn the session so the director could “take advice.”
But when they met again a few days later, the principal told him that the Joint Governing Body (JMB), the group that represents religious high schools, had advised him “not to discuss this complaint further.” and the matter was closed, Dunne said. .
He said he was left with no choice but to file a formal complaint with the Labor Relations Commission.
The school’s position was that the question that was posed to Mr. Dunne in the interview was, “Do you have the energy to [for the additional role]and can you make a difference?”
Christine West, JMB’s deputy general secretary, who appeared at the school, said Mr. Dunne “understood the question to be about his fitness” and “stated that he was in the gym every day at 5 a.m. morning and that he was full of energy. .
Interviewers “were left in no doubt as to the physical fitness of the complainant,” he said.
Dunne had “misread this discussion in the interview [as being] related to their age,” argued Ms. West, going on to say that physical fitness or the ability to take on additional tasks “is not an age-related issue”.
Ms West added that the reference to the “stage” of her career “would have been asked of any other member of the senior management team had they applied for the position, regardless of their age”.
“There is no doubt that if a 60-year-old candidate is asked a question related to the stage of their career and the energy they have to apply for a position, it will give the impression that their age is a factor,” he added. . adjudicating officer Gerry Rooney wrote in a decision published Wednesday.
It was reasonable to conclude, he wrote, that the question was aimed at “subjectively comparing one candidate to another” and that the comparison was “directly or indirectly related to the age of the candidates.”
Mr Rooney found that this amounted to discrimination based on age in violation of the Employment Equity Laws and ordered Franciscan College to pay Mr Dunne €3,300 in compensation.