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€19k for worker who suffered months of sexual harassment

A worker has won €19,000 in compensation after enduring repeated sexual harassment from colleagues in her first job out of school at a Dominos Pizza shop – including being propositioned for sex, being told to “do OnlyFans”, and handed a name badge with symbols depicting breasts on it.

“They would actually howl at women as they passed by on the street,” the worker said of the pizza cooks at the store in a Dublin suburb, adding later: “I felt completely sexualised, like every move that I made was sexualised.”

“I wouldn’t talk to my mum much about it because it was gross. I would leave for work; she thought I was safe there. I didn’t want her knowing what was happening. I cried to my friends,” Jasmine Olaru told the Workplace Relations Commission earlier this year.

She was 18 and still at secondary school when she started work at the shop counter in February 2022 – her first ever job, she told the WRC.

The employment tribunal has now ordered the operator of the pizza shop, Remo Foods Ltd, to pay €16,000 to Ms Olaru for sexual harassment and victimisation in breach of the Employment Equality Act 1998, along with a further €3,000 for a breach of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.

Remo Foods, a franchisee which runs 23 Dominos Pizza branches in the Republic has also been ordered to review the “effectiveness” of its anti-sexual harassment policies and training in the wake of the findings.

Ms Olaru said that on various occasions, the deputy manager, Mr B, threatened to “spank” her with the shovel used to scoop out pizza from the oven; told her she “should do OnlyFans” – which she took to mean she should make pornography – and asked her: “Can I watch?” when she went to change into her uniform.

Ms Olaru said that on 29 July 2022 she and another worker arrived without their name tags and were pulled up for it by the deputy manager, Mr B. The complainant said Mr B went into a back office with an assistant manager, Mr C, and another male employee, Mr G before re-emerging with a pair of name tags for them.

“They handed me mine. It had a pair of breasts on it,” she said. Mr B, the deputy manager, insisted it was “funny”, Ms Olaru said. She said she went to a back room and cried “for an hour or two”.

After giving her notice in September 2022, the complainant said she found herself clocked out from her shifts early on two occasions by her managers. Her barrister, Jason Murray BL, appearing instructed by Martin O’Donnell LLB of Morgan Redmond solicitors, argued that this amounted to “blatant victimisation” for reporting harassment to the store manager.

Adjudicator Elizabeth Spelman said Ms Olaru’s evidence had been credible and uncontested, with “considerable detail including dates, names and locations”, along with “corroborating evidence” – the offending name tag, which the complainant had kept and brought with her to the hearing.

“The respondent did not produce a single witness to rebut the complainant’s allegations,” Ms Spelman added.

She found Ms Olaru was “discriminated against on the ground of gender and sexually harassed in violation of the Employment Equality Act” – awarding her €13,000 in compensation – the maximum sum possible, she wrote, as the worker had already left the job when she complained.

She awarded a further €3,000 for victimisation under the same act and the same sum again for on foot of a finding that Ms Olaru did not receive breaks in accordance with the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. The total compensation in the case was €19,000.

‘He just laughed in my face’

The badge incident was one of ten distinct episodes described by the complainant in her attested evidence on various dates between the spring of 2022 and her resignation in September that year.

On one occasion, when she finished up a shift between 4am and 5am, shortly before she handed in her notice in September 2022, she said it was arranged for her to be dropped home with a delivery driver, Mr D – who then propositioned her for sex.

Ms Olaru said that when she arrived to work on another occasion, a different delivery driver, Mr E, remarked to a shift manager, Mr F: “Don’t worry, you can masturbate later.”

On the day she gave notice, Ms Olaru said she told the shop’s manager, Mr A what had happened to her while he was away. “He just laughed in my face. He called the managers ‘fucking idiots’,” she said.

Mr Murray said his client had laid out a history of “egregious acts” in her direct evidence on her time at the pizza shop. “The name tag speaks for itself,” he added.

The company’s legal representative, Hugh Hegarty of Management Support Services, said: “All we have is a picture and a name tag, but there’s no date, there’s no evidence that it was given to her by anybody, there’s no evidence that the story she says relates to this name tag is anything more than an assertion,”

“If there’s any truth in the story, we’re extremely upset by it, but we don’t know there’s any truth to it,” he added.

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