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Race and sex bias claim Filipinas win £19,000 KFC payout

By Joanne Sweeney

Published 14/05/2015

Maria Galvan at home yesterday
Maria Galvan at home yesterday

Fast food chain KFC has paid £19,000 in a settlement to two former Filipina women employees who claimed racial and sex discrimination.

Payments of £10,000 to Maria Galvan and £9,000 to Karen Cahalig were made without admission of liability by their former employer, Herbel Restaurants Ltd, which runs KFC restaurants in the province.

Both cases were taken against Herbel with the assistance of the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland.

Herbel has since agreed to meet with the Equality Commission to review its equal opportunities practices and procedures and to provide both women with written references.

Chief commissioner Dr Michael Wardlow said yesterday that it was important that foreign national workers were aware that there was legislation to protect their rights at work.

"This case shines a light on an important area of work for us," he said.

"Race discrimination is consistently amongst the top three types of discrimination about which the commission receives complaints.

"A number of people coming here to work from other countries may not be aware that there is protection.

"So our message is that as well as legalisation being there to protect you in receiving services, there is also protection in the workplace."

He warned: "If an employer runs foul of that, then there is redress. There are people here to help you. You don't have to put up with it."

Mrs Galvan, a 35-year-old married mother-of-two, worked for Herbel from 2004 to 2013.

She was a general manager at a KFC in the greater Belfast area before she left.

She alleged that she was subjected to verbal racial harassment and suffered significantly less favourable treatment than local workers.

Mrs Galvan further claimed she had difficulty securing the appropriate rates of pay compared to local workers, and that she was also subjected to unwelcome and unwanted gender-based comments.

She eventually took the decision to leave her work and alleges that this was because of her treatment.

Mrs Cahalig, a 37-year-old married mother-of-four, also claimed in a separate complaint to the Equality Commission that she was forced to leave her job because of treatment from her employer.

She was working as a trainee manager at KFC in the greater Belfast area.

She had worked with the company since 2007 and alleged discriminatory treatment in terms of pay, unequal treatment at work, verbal racial harassment and unwelcome and unwanted gender-based comments.

There were 61 claims of workplace discrimination taken forward by the Equality Commission last year, with 50 of them settled ahead of a tribunal.

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