An aviation recruitment agency has been ordered to pay €41,370 compensation to a Human Resources (HR) manager after she was discriminated because she is a woman. 

In the case, the Dublin based senior staff member found that on returning to the aviation recruitment company and staff support agency after maternity leave on June 24, 2019, she had been removed from the company's leadership team. 

The woman - who joined the company in June 2016 - lodged a discrimination claim at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

WRC Adjudication Officer Maire Mulcahy found that the company failed to return the HR manager to her job or to an equivalent post with the same terms and conditions post maternity leave. 

Ms Mulcahy stated that the €41,370 represents six months' remuneration in compensation for the distress resulting from the discrimination. 

The global aviation company has sites in Dublin, Shannon, China, Japan, Vietnam, London, Spain and the US. 

The HR manager stated that pre-maternity leave, she was head of HR, a member of the senior leadership team and responsible for sites at China, Japan, Vietnam, Shannon, Dublin, London, Spain and the USA. 

However, after her return to work, a colleague was promoted to the post of HR manager, she was no longer a member of the senior leadership team and was responsible for sites at only Dublin and Shannon. 

The complainant told the WRC hearing that she never got the chance to apply for the newly created HR managerial role and that she should have been told about the option to apply for the job.

Ms Mulcahy stated that on the woman’s return from maternity leave, her role contracted.

The woman had "lost responsibility for sites outside of Ireland reducing her international reach," Ms Mulcahy added. 

She also found that the complainant had been the most senior HR manager in the Dublin office reporting to the MD up until her return from maternity leave.  

Ms Mulcahy said the complainant "no longer occupied the senior position. Now she reported to a new and more senior HR manager appointed above her.

"I find that the revised role offered a diminished amount of responsibility and influence," she added. 

Ms Mulcahy also found that the complainant was denied the opportunity to apply for the newly created HR manager post. 

Prior to her maternity leave, the complainant held the most senior position in the HR department. 

Ms Mulcahy said the complainant was not advised of any advertisement, or of the selection process, nor was she invited to compete alongside all-comers for the position.  

Ms Mulcahy stated that "her candidacy for this position was a foregone conclusion. The MD stated in evidence that she did not possess the skill set for the role. No opportunity was presented to her to argue the contrary". 

"I cannot conclude that the complainant's gender had nothing to do with the respondent’s exclusion of her from the competitive process established to select a HR manager," Ms Mulcahy said.

Ms Mulcahy found that the exclusion of the woman from the competitive process is evidence of discrimination on grounds of gender contrary to the provisions of the Employment Equality Acts. 

The company stated that it denied that they acted in a discriminatory manner towards the complainant and submitted that she got her same job back.

Reporting by Gordan Deegan