Catholic woman awarded £20,000 after workplace harassment
Published: 29 November 2017
A Catholic woman has been awarded £20,000 compensation after being subjected to sectarian harassment at work.
Helen Scott worked at bathroom suppliers Stevenson &
Reid Ltd in Belfast. She was the only Catholic among the predominantly
Protestant employees in her department.
She said that in 2015, her line manager became angry with
her after discovering that he had to attend a meeting instead of her. He
started shouting and swearing at her in front of colleagues. During the tirade
he shouted the Irish phrase, “Tiocfaidh ar la,” up close to her face in a
This means ‘Our Time Will Come’ and was associated with republicanism
during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
Ms Scott was shaken by the incident and felt that her
manager was trying to suggest she had certain religious or political beliefs.
She suffered from stress and went on sick leave. She later
resigned and brought claims of constructive unfair dismissal and
The Employment Tribunal found in her favour. It held that
the Irish phrase Ms Scott had been subjected to had “a clear sectarian
The Judge said: "This can only be a threat and is
somewhat menacing given that the claimant (Ms Scott) was the only Catholic
working in the showroom."
He added that the phrase was "unwanted and had the
effect, if not the purpose, of violating the claimant’s dignity as well as
creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive
He concluded: “The ground for the offensive treatment of the
claimant.…was her religion or political opinion."
A spokesman for Stevenson & Reid Ltd said: "The
company has stated that it respects the decision handed down by the industrial
tribunal, adding that the incident was unfortunate and a total aberration. It
will ensure that such an incident will never be repeated."
Please contact Matthew Sigsworth in our Dispute Resolution
Team if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article
or any aspect of employment law.