A pregnant woman who was sacked by her boss at a Wrights of Howth-operated restaurant telling her “business is business, enjoy your maternity” has had her €30,000 compensation award halved.
In the case under the Employment Acts, the Labour Court has found the sacking of Dorota Murat, who was manager at Wrights of Howth’s ‘Crabby Jos’ restaurant, was “tainted by discrimination” and has awarded her €15,000.
Wrights of Howth Seafood Bars Ltd was appealing an Adjudication Officer’s discrimination award of €30,000 to Ms Murat on the grounds of gender, and in its ruling the Labour Court has now halved the amount due by the firm to her.
Ms Murat joined the Howth restaurant in March 2015 and was on a six-month probation period when sacked five weeks after she informed her bosses she was pregnant on May 8th, 2015.
In finding that Ms Murat’s sacking was tainted with discrimination, the Labour Court found the decision to dismiss Ms Murat and the manner of its implementation were seriously lacking in adherence to its own disciplinary procedures.
The Court found that Ms Murat was given no warnings, she was simply informed her employment was terminated on June 15th, 2015 following a request by her for a meeting to discuss her concerns.
The court stated that Ms Murat was given no opportunity to make representations on her own behalf.
In its ruling, the court found no issues had been raised with Ms Murat’s performance prior to her notifying the firm she was pregnant and she had not been subject to any disciplinary procedures.
Ms Murat said after she announced her pregnancy she felt the atmosphere had changed and she was not included with her two bosses.
Ms Murat said when told she was being let go, it came as a shock to her and she was not expecting it. She said the meeting with her male boss sacking her lasted only two minutes and she received her P45 the next day.
The firm denied the dismissal had anything to do with Ms Murat’s pregnancy and all down to her poor work performance.
General manager and operations manager Sean McAuliffe said dismissing Ms Murat was to ensure the business did not deteriorate again. He said he was concerned about staff morale, which he felt was being damaged by her approach to staff.
Mr McAuliffe said he dismissed Ms Murat because no matter what he did to try and improve matters, there was no change in her performance. It was coming into their high season and the company could not continue with problems.
Senior restaurant manager Sara Gross told the Labour Court that Ms Murat’s performance continued to deteriorate and she was receiving complaints from staff about her.
Ms Gross said from the start there were issues with Ms Murat’s performance. There was tension in the restaurant, she had an abrasive attitude towards staff and this was having a negative impact on staff.
Ms Gross said she was at breaking point with Ms Murat’s performance and wrote her an email to Mr Murat on June 1st, 2015 outlining her difficulties with the performance.
A waiter and barman at the restaurant, Steven Ray, said after Ms Murat commenced working as a manager, he found the restaurant was badly organised, there were customer complaints and a decrease in tips.
In its ruling, the Labour Court did not explain why the award to Ms Murat was halved.