HSE West ordered to pay €70,000 in discrimination case

Tuesday 20 August 2013 17.37
Case taken by medical secretary at University Hospital Limerick
Case taken by medical secretary at University Hospital Limerick

The HSE West has been ordered to pay €70,000 to a medical secretary with a debilitating bowel disorder who it discriminated against and failed to accommodate in a suitable office.

The Employment Equality Tribunal also ordered the HSE to allocate the woman an office of her own near toilet facilities similar to what she had seven years ago at University Hospital Limerick.

The hospital was formerly called the Mid Western Regional Hospital.

The HSE said it has just received the report and is considering its contents.

The dispute was brought to the tribunal by an unnamed medical secretary who suffers acute stomach attacks, which cause embarrassment in a shared environment.

The tribunal recalled that in 2006 her manager at University Hospital Limerick accommodated her reasonably in an single-occupancy office near toilet facilities.

But a year later, a stand-in manager instructed her to share a different office with three other staff, an order that the tribunal said exacerbated her condition.

The woman claimed the dispute forced her to take sick leave.

The HSE told the tribunal that after the IMPACT trade union activated grievance procedures, it offered the woman suitable alternative accommodation on the late shift at reception desks in either the emergency department or the main hospital.

But the tribunal said it cannot accept that these offers of employment in very busy and public areas constituted "reasonable accommodation".

On this and two grounds of discrimination, it ordered the HSE to pay her €70,000 - close to the legal maximum - in redress and to restore her original conditions.