WRC finds Disability Charity’s recruitment process discriminated against applicant on the disability ground

The Workplace Relations Commission recently found in favour of a complainant who argued he had been discriminated on the disability ground after disclosing his dyslexia and Asperger’s syndrome during the recruitment process for a position with the respondent charity. The adjudicator ordered that the respondent review its recruitment policy and procedure to ensure that those involved in short listing candidates were trained in Equality and Equal Opportunity, that a formal letter of apology be issued to the complaint and that he be compensated to the amount of €8,000.

By way of background the case concerned a phase of pre-employment surrounding the competition for a Community Employment Scheme Supervisor with the respondent. The complainant applied for the position in March 2016 and disclosed on his CV that he had been diagnosed with dyslexia and Asperger’s syndrome. The respondent charity informed him that he had been unsuccessful in his application for the position and had not been shortlisted for interview, “due to the large number of applicants with sector specific knowledge and experience”. The complainant contacted the respondent as he was of the view that his CV reflected that he did in fact have the requisite knowledge and experience for the role. After inquiries were made, it transpired that the complainant’s CV was incorrectly scored which resulted in him not being called for interview. The respondent claimed it was human error which resulted in the complainant not being called for interview rather than any discrimination on its part. The complainant stated that the exclusion at shortlisting stage made him feel “less than what I am”.

In reviewing the evidence by both the respondent and the complainant the adjudicator held it was clear that the complainant was treated inconsistently with the other candidates and that the application of the selection criteria was “inconsistent and erroneous.” The adjudicator found that while the respondent now had in place an equality proofed recruitment process and policy it did not exist at the time of the complainant’s application. Furthermore the respondent was on notice that the complainant had a disability and found that his application had been treated inconsistently with other applicants. The adjudicator was satisfied that the burden of proof in establishing a prima facie case of discrimination when the selection criteria for the short listing process were applied erroneously and inconsistently to him. Finally the adjudicator referred to the Social Model of Disability which was considered extensively by the High Court in Nano Nagle School v. Marie Daly (2015) IEHC,785: The model stresses the intrinsic link that worker integration into the workforce holds. The adjudicator stated that shortlisting must be seen as a vital cog in that process and due care, consideration and consistency of approach are hallmarks of achieving the goals of a fair, impartial and equal recruitment process.

For a copy of the decision please click here.

For further commentary on the case please click here.





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