Cleaner dismissed on grounds of age and ill health wins case with support from FLAC

Cleaner dismissed on grounds of age and ill health wins case with support from FLAC

Sinead Lucey

A 64-year-old cleaner has won an age and disability discrimination case in the Workplace Relations Commission with support from legal rights group FLAC.

The woman, represented by FLAC managing solicitor Sinead Lucey, took proceedings after being dismissed on the grounds of age and ill health from her job as a part-time cleaner in a residential disability service.

She had no income or social welfare supports following her dismissal and has very little English, but discovered FLAC through word of mouth and made contact with the FLAC Roma Clinic Service, which has a dedicated interpreter.

Adjudication Officer Niamh O’Carroll Kelly found in the woman’s favour and awarded her €10,000.

Ms Lucey said: “There is no coherent system for people like this complainant. They often fall between the cracks. Even if they think they have a case they won’t be able to navigate the system to make their way through.

“This woman was fleeing a situation of domestic violence in her home country of Moldova. She was exercising her free movement rights when she came to Ireland to live and to work. Ultimately her employer engaged in no process whatsoever around this woman’s employment or dismissal.

“She had no contract of employment, was given no training and was ultimately dismissed due to her health conditions and her age with immediate effect, although there was no evidence that either her health or her age ever impacted on her ability to work.

“In addition, she was left extremely vulnerable when she lost her employment and her only income because she did not qualify for social welfare.”

Eilis Barry, chief executive of FLAC, added: “This case highlights the need for legal information and advocacy in this area. Complaints before the Workplace Relations Commission are excluded from the civil legal aid system, irrespective of the capacity of the complainant to represent themselves. As a result, too few employment equality cases ever see the light of day when the complainant cannot afford representation.”

FLAC recently wrote to the partners in the draft Programme for Government to repeat its call for a root and branch review of the current civil legal aid system to take place as a matter of urgency.

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