£37,000 won in sex harassment cases
Two women in Northern Ireland won over £37,000 taking sexual harassment cases against their employers, it has been revealed.
Coach driver Julie Rutherford, 32, from Magherafelt, brought a case against Chambers Coach Hire after alleged sexual comments and inappropriate physical contact.
She said management failed to protect her or handle her grievance correctly. The case was settled for £22,500.
"No one should have to put up with treatment like this and hopefully as a result of this case there will be less of it," she said.
Coleraine manager Majella Gallen, 28, claimed she was subjected to unwanted physical contact and remarks of a religious and sexual nature as well as unfavourable treatment in allocating a company car at JKC Specialist Cars. The business settled the case without admitting liability and paid Ms Gallen £15,000.
She added: "I felt ostracised after raising my complaints with management. I'm thankful for the (Equality) Commission's assistance and that the motor industry, where women are still in the minority, is being made aware that equality law applies to them as well.
"I hope my case will stop this happening to others and will be a source of hope for other women experiencing similar types of harassment."
In the year to February 2010 the commission had 748 enquiries about gender discrimination. Almost a third of new cases last year were gender-related.
Commission chief executive Evelyn Collins said: "While sex discrimination is unfortunately not a thing of the past in Northern Ireland, these cases show that women are increasingly involved in all areas of the workforce, including many previously the preserve of men.
"Importantly they also show that, if they are faced with outdated attitudes and unacceptable behaviour, this can and will be challenged."