Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Mother settles discrimination case

Criminology graduate McGee (23) who has a two-year-old son has settled her case for £20,000
Criminology graduate McGee (23) who has a two-year-old son has settled her case for £20,000

A young mother who complained of age and sex discrimination after a job offer was withdrawn has settled her case for £20,000.

Criminology graduate Lauren McGee, 23, who has a two-year-old son, gained a management trainee position with Edmundson Electrical at their branch in Coleraine.

But the offer of employment was withdrawn after she complained about comments allegedly made by a male manager at the firm.

"You can imagine how distressed I was about this. I thought I had obtained a secure job in my own locality with all the security that meant for me and my child, and this was taken from me," said Ms McGee.

She claimed that during a visit to the firm, days before she was due to start work in June 2012, a manager said she would struggle because she was a young mother. She also alleged he said that women of child-bearing age were hassle; that mothers did not make managers and that she would have to work harder to compensate for her looks and the fact that she was a woman.

The manager, named as John Bailie, denied the allegations and said that remarks he made were taken out of context. The comments were reported to the company handling the recruitment process and Ms McGee claimed the offer of work was then withdrawn. She unsuccessfully appealed the decision.

The mother, who said she felt discriminated against because of her sex and then victimised because she had complained, took her case to the Equality Commission.

"I did not have the money to fund the case myself and, rather than give up, I turned to the Equality Commission. It's thanks to them that I was able to pursue the case and eventually obtained a settlement, which I accepted. When I tell this story to others, it astounds me how many women have had to deal with discrimination much worse than what happened to me, but just did not have the means to fight their cases."

The settlement, made without admission of liability by both respondents, was made up of £17,500 from Edmundson Electrical Ltd and £2,500 from manager John Bailie. The company has also agreed to meet the Equality Commission to review policies, practices and procedures and ensure they conform with all the requirements of equality legislation.

A spokesman for Edmundson Electrical said the company did not wish to make any further comment.

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