Hotel Employee Wins €10,000 Award

A hotel has been ordered to pay a €10,000 discrimination award to a female employee from a Traveller background after a senior manager referred to her as "an itinerant".

In finding the hotel vicariously liable for the slur, Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) adjudicator Catherine Byrne said she could conceive of no motive for referring to the 21-year-old in public as an itinerant "other than to humiliate and embarrass her".

Ms Byrne said, "The deputy general manager’s public labelling of the complainant as an itinerant is grossly offensive." Ms Byrne also found the explanation of his conduct "to be ridiculous, not credible and disrespectful to this investigation".

Ms Byrne said she was satisfied that the complainant, who worked as a bartender at the hotel, was subjected to harassment by the manager, and the harassment constitutes discrimination on the ground that the complainant’s family origin is in the Traveller community.

Ms Byrne also found the hotel failed to deal properly with an earlier complaint in 2018, which could have prevented the continuation of the deputy general manager's disrespectful treatment towards the complainant.

Ms Byrne ordered the hotel to provide professional training to managers regarding the promotion of dignity and respect in the workplace. She said the context in which the word "itinerant" was used "gives the lie to the deputy GM’s flamboyant explanation that he meant the word as it is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary" of a person who travels from place to place.