Catholics win job bias awards

November 22, 1996

Northern Ireland's two universities have paid out more than Pounds 50,000 between them in job discrimination cases alleging religious bias. The cases were brought against Queen's and the University of Ulster by four Roman Catholics who were supported by the province's Fair Employment Commission.

In the most significant, a senior personnel officer at Queen's has accepted Pounds 30,000 after failing to be shortlisted for the post of director of human resources.

Queen's in Belfast has since apologised and reaffirmed its ob-ligation to ensure he works in an environment "free from intimidation, hostility or tension".

The university also pledged to ensure that the unnamed man will not be victimised for taking proceedings against his employers in the first place. Queen's has also again undertaken to continue working with the commission on its fair employment code of practice.

A second Catholic employee at Queen's received a Pounds 6,500 payout after failing to be offered part-time teaching work, despite his suitability for the post. The university accepted it had not followed its own code of practice in the case.

At the University of Ulster, a Catholic man received Pounds 8,750 after a tribunal concluded that he had been treated less favourably than a Protestant colleague. The tribunal found that those involved in drawing up the shortlist for a senior technician's post were more flexible in their interpretation of the experience thought to be necessary for the job in relation to the job application from a Protestant.

It was also revealed during the hearing that the Catholic man, Damien McDonald, had been denied overtime opportunities. The tribunal also said he had been forced to watch while the Protestant employee was "groomed" for the post.

A woman who had worked in the university's personnel department for ten years told the tribunal she was not aware of Mr McDonald's religion, even though she knew his Christian name was Damien, he had been working in a leading Catholic secondary school and had an O-level in Irish.

In the fourth case, the University of Ulster made a payout of Pounds 8,000 to a Catholic man following the failure to shortlist him for the post of lecturer in technology and design.

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