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  • Writer's picturePatrick Moriarty

The Growing Prevalence of Workplace Harassment

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

We have represented over 2000 victims in abuse/bullying/marginalisation cases as verified by the Dept. of Education & Skills. Call us on 087 2285247 or and we shall explain the legal landscape around workplace harassment and how legal & expert witness fees are paid.

A gay man who was labelled with a homophobic slur by a work colleague has been awarded €27,000 over being continually harassed in the workplace on the grounds of his sexual orientation. The man stated in evidence at the Workplace Relations Commission that the man used the slur to a co-worker and went on to say "I better not sit beside him, or I'll catch the gayness from him".

The complainant told the WRC that the comments were aimed at him on a daily fashion and there was constant sniggering and juvenile, stereotypical references made in his company, all of which made him feel under threat and humiliated.

WRC Adjudication Officer James Kelly stated that he found the complainant's evidence to be very credible and that the employer had discriminated against the man on the grounds of his sexual orientation and that the complainant had been harassed.

Mr Kelly said the €27,000 award, to be paid by the employer, is the equivalent of 18 months gross pay for the sustained distress suffered by the complainant and the effects of the discrimination and harassment on him and his health.

Mr Kelly also said the award under the Employment Equality Acts is arrived at having paid regard to the seriousness of the discrimination, the effect on the complainant and the requirement that the sanction be effective, dissuasive and proportionate.

Notable Workplace Harassment News

Harvey Weinstein

On February 24, the jury in Harvey Weinstein’s criminal trial in New York found the ex-media mogul and producer guilty of two felony sex crimes: rape and criminal sexual act. The verdict marks a milestone for victims of sexual assault and harassment in the workplace, as the prosecution’s case was largely based on victims’ testimony without forensic or physical evidence.

Financial Times Investigates ‘Big 4’ Culture of Harassment

FT spoke with 20 ex-Big 4 employees who were victims of sexual harassment, bullying, and discrimination in the workplace as part of an investigation into how these accounting firms treat complainants. The FT reports that they treat complainants poorly, rarely punish—and sometimes even promote—the accused.

The FT identified a disturbingly common pattern in terms of how complainants were treated: most initially felt ignored, then isolated and were eventually pushed out. Legal clauses aimed at silencing them swiftly followed; nine of those interviewed said they were pressured into signing restrictive non-disclosure agreements. Others were asked to sign but resisted.

Many of these complainants — most of whom shared documents with the FT that supported their accounts — claim they were treated like pariahs by their employers at a time when they most expected to receive support.

Almost all complained about an individual of a higher rank within the firm. In most of these cases, the complainant left within months of raising their concerns, while the alleged perpetrator remained.

Peter McDonnell & Associates

At Peter McDonnell & Associates we know from experience that the single greatest cause of worry for clients is the issue of legal fees.

Contact us on 087 2285247 or and we shall explain the legal landscape around workplace harassment and how legal & expert witness fees are paid.

*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or a proportion of any award or settlement.

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