Gender row | Female job applicant allegedly told vacant role was 'only for men'

Female job applicant allegedly told vacant role was 'only for men'

A female employee has been awarded over £6,000 compensation after claiming she was told that a job she was interested in was only for men.

Jess Quinn was working at Irish company Source & Supply Logistics on a three-month contract, when she enquired about another upcoming vacancy within the firm.

However, she claimed she was told that the role was only open to male candidates because it involved lots of heavy lifting and carrying boxes weighing up to 15kg up and down stairs.

Having previously driven an HGV for the company and having experience in heavy lifting, she was undeterred and applied for the job anyway, but was not offered an interview.

The available roles reportedly went to two men, whom Quinn herself had previously trained.

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She subsequently complained to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), claiming the company had breached the Employment Equality Act by restricting the role to male staff - a claim the company denied.

A manager with Source & Supply Logistics explained that a risk assessment had concluded that the job needed to be done by two people who were “not necessarily male” but able bodied and stronger than Quinn was.

The decision was made in the interests of health and safety, the manager told the WRC.

Quinn was asked to continue working for a week past the end of her contract, so that the company could find her a new role, however she handed in her notice in the wake of the controversy.

The company denied making any suggestion that women should not be doing such a job. But the WRC agreed with Quinn, ruling that Source & Supply Logistics had discriminated against her on grounds of gender.

WRC adjudicator Niamh O’Carroll ruled: "The respondent stated that whether someone was a male or a female wasn’t the issue, it was the person’s capabilities in relation to lifting boxes.”

O' Carroll added: "They did not ask the complainant if she was physically capable of lifting the boxes. They did not give her a trial run. They simply said that she would not be suitable.”

She concluded that the firm had "failed to establish that there was no infringement of the principle of equal treatment".

Quinn was awarded €7,500 compensation (£6,431).

1 in 7 HR leaders say men better suited to certain roles than women

Ms Quinn’s case was one of discrimination based on her perceived physical capabilities as a woman.

However, recent research revealed a prevalence of women being deemed unsuitable for a job in office environments, too.

In fact, more than a third of HR leaders admit they’re aware of young women being discriminated against in the workplace, while around one in seven HR chiefs say men are better suited to senior management jobs than women, according to a new study.

Nearly a fifth even admit they would be reluctant to hire a woman who they thought might go on to start a family.

The revelations came as part of new research from the charity Young Women’s Trust, which lays bare the increasing numbers of young women being discriminated against at work.

Half of respondents said they had faced some sort of discrimination, compared to just over two fifths last year (42%).

Worryingly, over a third (34%) of HR decision makers confirmed that they were also aware of instances of young women being discriminated against in the past year. The same number agreed that sexist behaviour still exists within their organisation.

In the charity’s latest annual survey, which spoke to 4000 young women, 1000 young men and nearly 1000 HR decision makers, almost a quarter (23%) of young women said that they are being paid less than their male peers even for the same work, despite this being illegal. They also said that when instances of discrimination do occur, they feel less able to challenge or report it (25%) compared to young men (17%).

Employers still have a long way to go to support young women and rid workplaces of outdated and discriminatory views. The survey found that almost 3 in 10 (28%) HR decision makers agreed that it is harder for women to progress in their organisation than men.

Furthermore, 15% agreed that men are better suited to senior management jobs than women, and 19% said that they would be reluctant to hire a woman who they thought might go on to start a family. Only 13% of HR professionals said the same for a man.

The survey also showed the progression and job security is a big cause of concern:

Almost half of young women are worried about not having enough opportunities to progress (49%) – a small increase on last year (47%).

Over a third (36%) of young women are worried about job security, up from 33% last year.

Young women are more likely than young men to have been offered a zero hours contract – 42% compared to 33%.

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Discrimination is just one of the factors that means young women earn £4000 less than young men each year, alongside young women being funnelled into lower paid jobs and working less hours due to taking on more responsibilities at home. This income gap kicks in right at the start of working life and it’s preventing young women from having an equal chance to thrive and reach their potential.

Low pay is a huge worry for young women with over half (56%) of young women saying their financial situation was uncomfortable compared to 40% of young men. Over half (55%) of young women are worried about how much their job pays, while almost a quarter (23%) have been paid less than the minimum wage they were entitled to, compared to 20% of young men.

Claire Reindorp, Chief Executive at Young Women’s Trust said: “Just a couple of months ago we reported on the rising cost of living having a disproportionate impact on young women’s lives – and these latest figures show why that’s happening, with deep-rooted and widespread discrimination driving income inequality.

“We know it’s hard for young women to get the jobs that they want because of barriers such as a lack of flexible working and affordable childcare, but then when they do enter the workplace, discrimination and a lack of support to progress creates this broken rung on the career ladder. It’s a travesty that in 2023 young women still aren’t being given the same chances in life as young men.

“There’s so much more than politicians and employers can do to make a difference and – and much of it is not that hard. Let’s stop living in the dark ages and realise the true potential that young women can bring to society and our economy. We’ve got an entire workforce’s talents that could be unlocked.”

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