Shauna McFarland v Morelli Ice Cream Limited & Remo Di Vito (5722/18IT) - DAC Beachcroft

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Shauna McFarland v Morelli Ice Cream Limited & Remo Di Vito (5722/18IT)

Published 29 septiembre 2022

The Industrial Tribunal in NI found that former Morelli’s Ice Cream Ltd. employee, Shauna McFarland, had been victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, and reinforced that an employer is vicariously liable for the acts of its employee.  The employer was ordered to pay the sum of £20,000.00 for injury to feelings. 

Within the Tribunal’s decision, a great deal of criticism was levied at the Employer’s treatment of the Claimant’s complaints of sexual harassment, and their failure to initiate any investigation surrounding the allegations. 

The Tribunal notes in the decision:

“There was no form of investigation; the claimant was never informed by the first respondent [the Employer] of what, if any steps, had been taken to address the issue; and there was no follow-up of even basic enquiry as to her welfare.”

The Tribunal also went on to say:

“The tribunal is satisfied that the second respondent’s continued, revived and repeated conduct, whilst his own choice, was significantly boosted by the first respondent’s complete failure to meaningfully address it. The first respondent by its actions and inaction, at crucial points throughout this case, knowingly placed the claimant in harm’s way. […]”

It is important as an Employer to be able to identify acts of Sexual Harassment (which can include the spreading of sexual rumours, sexual gestures, unwelcome touching, sexual jokes or comments to name a few) or allegations of it.  This Judgement highlights the need to take such allegations seriously, and take immediate steps to investigate.  It is quite likely that the outcome could have been very different for the Employer if they had acted promptly and properly upon receipt of the complaints.  If you have a concern there is Sexual Harassment occurring in the workplace or you have received a complaint of Sexual Harassment and you want to ensure you act on it appropriately please contact our Employment team for further advice.

Authors

Catriona McCorry

Catriona McCorry

Belfast

+44 (0)289 041 2834

Amanda McClimond

Amanda McClimond

Belfast

+44 (0)289 041 2817

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