UCD is to appeal a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) ruling that the university discriminated against a member of its academic staff on the ground of age.

In a communication to staff, college president Andrew Deeks said UCD does not accept the finding and the university will be appealing the decision to the Labour Court.

Professor Deeks has told staff that UCD will only promote faculty members in accordance with the promotion policy approved by its Academic Council and Governing Authority.

In the recent ruling, the WRC found that the college had discriminated against a female staff member who had worked as a lecturer since 1993.

The woman, who has a PhD, applied for promotion to Senior Lecturer grade in 2013 but was unsuccessful.

Her internal appeal against that decision was also unsuccessful.

At the WRC, she argued that she had been discriminated against on the grounds of age, and gender.

She argued that a "five-year" rule in place at the college, that dismissed work undertaken more than five years before application for the post, effectively discriminated against any staff of long standing in the college and particularly against female academics caring for children.

A senior academic who gave expert opinion expressed "astonishment" to the WRC that Dr Cleary's 20 years of contributions to UCD were insufficient to earn her a promotion.

The WRC ruled that age discrimination had occurred and instructed UCD to appoint the woman retrospectively to the Senior Lecturer grade together with relevant pay adjustments, pension and other entitlements.

It also ordered a significant compensation payment.

Welcoming the ruling, the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) said it shone a light on "the significant issues of ageism" that exist in third-level education and in broader society and business.

The union's General Secretary Joan Donegan said the case demonstrated how age interacted with gender to compound discrimination against women. 

However, in a bulletin to staff this week the UCD president said the college's academic promotion process was merit-based and in line with international best practice.

Prof Deeks said age and gender played no part in the process, and that achievement was measured relative to opportunity.

He said he wanted "to assure" staff that the college would be appealing the ruling.