Polish Catholic worker awarded €15,000 after co-worker mocked his Jesus tattoo

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A Polish Catholic cleaner was harassed on the grounds of religion at work here when a colleague made fun of his Jesus tattoo

Today, Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) arbitrator Louise Boyle ordered Allpro Services to pay Andrzej Waszkiewicz €15,000 in compensation for the harassment he suffered for religious and racial grounds from a co-worker.

Ms Boyle ordered the Galway-based security and cleaning company to pay Mr Waszkiewicz €10,000 for the harassment he faced on the grounds of religion and €5,000 for the on-pitch harassment of the race under the Employment Equality Act 1998.

In evidence, Mr. Waszkiewicz alleged that a co-worker made fun of his religion and race between October 12 and October 22, 2020 and that his supervisor did nothing to stop him.

Mr Waszkiewicz alleged that when he was changing his t-shirt, a work colleague made fun of his Jesus tattoo.

Mr. Waszkiewicz alleged that his co-worker also made fun of his religious traditions and questioned the credibility of his religion and asked how Mr. Waszkiewicz knew that the Catholic faith was better than the Islamic faith.

Mr. Waszkiewicz also alleged that this colleague made fun of him because in Poland Christmas Day is celebrated on December 24.

The Complainant also alleged that his co-worker said Polish people were too religious and on another occasion when Mr. Waszkiewicz exclaimed “Oh my God! when something happened at work, his co-worker made fun of him for using the word “God” and on another occasion his co-worker made derogatory comments about the pope.

Mr Waszkiewicz told the WRC he was struggling to cope and went to his doctor who certified him as ill from November 11, 2020 and following the incidents he had to take medication. antidepressants.

Mr Waszkiewicz – who started working at Allpro Services in August 2020 – testified that he remained on certified sick leave until April 2021.

On cross-examination, Mr. Waszkiewicz confirmed that he never told his employer that he was made fun of because of his race or religion and indicated that he did not think he was useful to report the incidents as his employer had not responded to his previous complaints about allegations of bullying. .

Mr. Waszkiewicz’s daughter, Angelica, testified that she was there when her father came home upset and didn’t want to leave the house and she had never seen him like this.

Ms Waszkiewicz said he stopped talking to her and she witnessed the impact of these events on him.

On cross-examination, Ms Waszkiewicz said that since her father left the business, his mood had improved and he could now go out.

In her closing remarks after hearing two days of testimony, Ms Boyle said she found Mr Waszkiewicz’s testimony that the incidents of harassment had occurred more credible.

Ms Boyle also found it reasonable that Mr Waszkiewicz did not believe his employer would properly investigate his colleague when he made fun of the complainant’s tattoo of Jesus, when Mr Waszkiewicz said “oh my God” and Mr. Waszkiewicz’s belief in God as the one true God.

Ms. Boyle found that Mr. Waszkiewicz had established a prima facie case of discrimination that amounted to harassment on religious and racial grounds and found that Allpro Services had not rebutted this.

Allpro Services denied that Mr. Waszkiewicz had been harassed and argued that Mr. Waszkiewicz had failed to provide prima facie evidence of discrimination and harassment.

Ms Boyle said Allpro Services’ only witness, Liz Cazabon, testified under oath that she arrived at the organization after the alleged events and that to her knowledge the events did not occur or were told Mr. Waszkiewicz in a joke. The HR consultant asked Mr Waszkiewicz if he understood the Irish way of ‘slagging’.

During cross-examination, Ms. Cazabon argued that Mr. Waszkiewicz had not been terminated but that he had been terminated because there was no work available and that he was not entitled to severance pay due to his seniority.

Ms. Boyle concluded that Ms. Cazabon was not engaged by Allpro Services at the time of the alleged harassment and much of her testimony can be considered hearsay.

As part of her findings, Ms Boyle said Mr Waszkiewicz filed his complaints in January 2021 and was fired in April 2021 and the employer made no effort to contact Mr Waszkiewicz about his complaints specific despite having been informed of them during the period of layoff. -stopped.

As part of her order, Ms Boyle directed Allpro Services to draw up an Anti-Harassment Workplace Policy and an Anti-Bullying Workplace Policy in accordance with the relevant statutory codes of practice and to take such steps necessary to ensure that these policies are communicated and understood in a verifiable manner. by, all employees.

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