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WRC finds Teagasc’s handling of worker’s lawsuit ‘absolutely shocking’

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A state labor inspectorate has ordered Teagasc to pay €40,000 in compensation to a statistician who allegedly earns around €20,000 less a year than a male colleague doing similar work.

Orkplace Relations Commission (WRC) Judge Jim Dolan issued the order after finding that the state agricultural advisory and research agency discriminated against Paula Reid on the basis of sex by not offering her equal pay as part of the employment relationship as granted to a male comparison officer.

As well as paying €40,000 in compensation, Mr Dolan has also ordered Teagasc to pay Ms Reid’s arrears since 2017 – and this could total almost €100,000 based on figures Ms Reid has provided to the WRC.

As part of the order, Mr. Dolan has directed Teagasc to place Ms. Reid on the appropriate pay scale where her male comparison partner has worked since May 1, 2017 and to have any arrears of compensation paid to her within two months.

Mr. Dolan has directed Teagasc’s Human Resources Director to apologize to Ms. Reid for the department’s past and present “very clumsy” handling of her claim.

Mr Dolan has called Teagasc’s treatment of Ms Reid’s demand for equal pay “absolutely shocking”.

The WRC hearing was told that Ms Reid was paid significantly less than her male comparison partner, Jim Grant earning around €20,000 less a year than he did.

Ray Ryan BL, hired by Ronan Killeen, Killeen Solicitors told WRC that Ms Reid was paid “significantly less” than Mr Grant and “did essentially and essentially the same work as he did”.

Mr. Dolan commented that Teagasc’s handling of Ms. Reid’s salary claim was “absolutely shocking” after citing an email from Ms. Reid to Teagasc’s Employee Relations Manager detailing the agency’s inaction in handling her claim .

Ms. Reid has been with Teagasc since January 1977 and in an email dated August 19, 2019, Ms. Reid stated: “This issue has been going on for 18 years and nothing has happened and there appears to be no willingness on the part of Human Resources to to solve it .

Ms Reid explained: “I’ve had meetings/correspondence on this subject with HR, Declan Troy, Tom Kirley, Seamus Crosse in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009 and nothing has progressed.”

Ms Reid explained: “I’ve been a statistician since 2001 and you’re now trying to determine if I’m suitable for the job. It seems to me that HR is making up all sorts of excuses not to move this matter forward.”

Mr. Dolan said that the job descriptions of Ms. Reid and her male comparison partner, Jim Grant, were “identical” in Teagasc’s employee directory. Mr Grant retired in 2020.

Mr. Dolan explained that Ms. Reid cleared two hurdles in successfully filing her claim for discrimination – he or she must establish comparable work and he or she must identify a comparator who does comparable work and is paid a higher amount.

Ms Reid denied that the difference in pay to Mr Grant could be explained or justified by grade, skills, experience and qualifications.

Teagasc argued that Ms. Reid was a technical statistician and Mr. Grant was a senior research scientist statistician and had an entirely different level of responsibility in his role.

In a March 2020 letter, Teagasc’s attorneys stated that the difference in compensation between Ms. Reid and Dr. Grant “on the grade, skills, experience and qualifications of Dr. Grant and not to gender”.

Teagasc’s attorneys stated that “Ms. Reid provides statistical analysis support to research staff primarily in the Food Directorate in the design, analysis and interpretation of controlled experiments, collaborates on research projects and has not produced any peer-reviewed publications.”

They argued that “Dr. Grant is currently a Senior Research Officer at Teagasc and has considerable experience at this level for over fifteen years, having received his PhD 18 years ago.

They noted that “Dr. Grant is a leader within Teagasc in providing statistical support to all areas of the organization, executing major projects, contributing to the business planning process and authoring numerous peer-reviewed publications.”

https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/news/farming-news/wrc-finds-teagascs-treatment-of-workers-claim-as-absolutely-shocking-41487437.html WRC finds Teagasc’s handling of worker’s lawsuit ‘absolutely shocking’

Fry Electronics Team

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