Tag Archives: high court

NUI Galway will negotiate with women lecturers: Thursday’s High Court pre-trial hearing and demonstration cancelled

 

The Campaign has just learnt that the four female lecturers and NUI Galway have agreed to mediation.

As a result of the agreement, the pre-trial hearing regarding the gender inequality case that was scheduled to be held on Thursday May 4th in the High Court in Dublin has been adjourned. So the student demonstration outside the High Court that was planned for Thursday has also been cancelled. However, because Micheline is concerned that some people may not receive or hear this news, she intends to still be there outside the High Court in Dublin at 11.30 am on Thursday to explain and thank anyone who turns up.

The four women who are lecturers at NUI Galway had sued the university last year, saying they were not promoted to senior lecturer in the 2008/09 promotion round because of their gender and, with this pre-trial hearing, the university had been trying to have the case dismissed.

The Campaign would like to thank everyone who contributed their time, hard work and money to the women’s fight. It is because of YOUR commitment that this has become such a high-profile case. We believe this is why the university and the women are now undertaking mediation. It is because of YOUR support that the women’s voices are being heard. We thank you immensely for everything.

The Campaign will stand aside while the women seek what they require through mediation and we are wishing them well. If they are satisfied by the outcome, we will celebrate but not be triumphalist about it. But if they are not satisfied with the outcome, the Campaign will continue until they get justice. So please watch this website for future developments.

Thank you again to all our supporters!

Benefit concert with The Stunning, Tommy Tiernan sold out!

The benefit concert this Wednesday at the Black Box is sold out.

The concert has been sold out for more than a week and both the organisers and the Town Hall Theatre Box Office have been turning ever-increasing numbers of people away.

Rose Foley, one of the organisers, commented, ‘The concert really seems to have caught people’s attention. There are 800 tickets and all of them started selling really quickly a couple of weeks back.  Now I figure we could have sold them twice over.’

It is a unique line-up. The Stunning have not played Galway since their amazing outdoor concert in the harbour for the Volvo Ocean Race in 2012, and they have never done a concert with comedian Tommy Tiernan. The line-up is completed by My Fellow Sponges, a band which is especially popular with NUI Galway students. They are all doing the benefit to support the five female lecturers taking legal cases for gender discrimination against NUI Galway.

‘I really appreciate what Tommy and the musicians are doing,’ Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington said. ‘Not only will we raise a lot of money for the women’s legal bills, but the concert has raised awareness of the High Court case that is happening on May 4th. I was particularly impressed with how Tommy agreed to do it. We wrote him a long e-mail explaining what it was all about and got one line back saying “I’m good to go!” ‘

If there are any supporters who have tickets they cannot use, they can return them to the campaign or if tickets were to be collected, let the campaign know whose name they were reserved under and we can re-use them.

And thank you for all your support!

NUI Galway management = Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy seems to be de riguer at NUI Galway.

On Wednesday, NUI Galway President Jim Browne revealed at his biannual speech the university’s hypocritical stance regarding the treatment of female staff, particularly the women who have sued the university in the High Court for gender discrimination, and then on Friday, Micheline further exposed the university’s hypocritical attitude towards the women in a Letter to the Editor in the Galway City Tribune.

Dr Browne gave his biannual speech to all NUI Galway staff last Wednesday and three women, including Micheline, stood up to raise the issue of the High Court gender discrimination case against the university and the dire treatment of women generally by NUI Galway positions. His response was interesting, to say the least.

The women highlighted that the case has been fought for 2 years, 4 months. They emphasised the ‘human cost’ as well as the ‘stress and strain’ caused by the case, saying it is ‘financially draining’ and an ‘emotionally and mentally crushing process.’

We are ‘putting our careers, wellbeing and finances on the line to fight for what is right,’ one of the women said, adding that the sacrifice is ‘not only for ourselves but, more importantly, for others.’

In the past, Dr Browne has responded to such statements with obvious annoyance, even outright anger.

This time, he claimed heartfelt concern.

‘I regret to the core what the five women are going through,’ he told them and added that he wished he could help them but he was unable to do anything about it, explaining that ‘the issue is very complicated.’

Really?

He has said in the past that ‘I can’t and won’t promote them’ and that it is for the women to prove they deserve promotion in court. That’s why the women filed the court case in the first place. Yet, instead of allowing the case to continue and let the facts come out, the university is dragging out the process – using taxpayers’ money while the women have to fund raise to pay their costs.

At the request of the university, a pre-trial hearing has been scheduled for Thursday, May 4th in the High Court. Such a hearing will look only at the case’s legal basis – not the facts. In short, the hearing is merely an attempt to have the women’s court case thrown out so that the facts won’t be revealed to the public and the women won’t be able to prove that they were discriminated against.

According to The Irish Times, the preliminary issues centre on whether the lecturers’ claims can be dealt with by the High Court or must they be first determined by the Workplace Relations Commission and/or Circuit Court. Two years and four months later, this is where the case stands?

But wait, the hypocrisy at NUIG continues.

Mich letter

In a Letter to the Editor (reprinted in full above) in the most recent edition of the Galway City Tribune, Micheline exposed the hyprocrisy of NUI Galway management regarding the treatment of women at the university.

Micheline referred to an article in the March 17th edition in which NUI Galway rejected Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh’s claim that the university has done little for the female staff in the last two years.

According to the article (“We’re taking action,” Page 15), the university said it is ‘comprehensively addressing the issue at all levels.’

However, Micheline refuted this statement, saying, ‘Yet I see no evidence that key “college decision-making bodies” come anywhere near having the 40% of female representation they claim.’

Micheline pointed out that:

  1. In the past three years, four of the five male College Deans have been replaced – by four more men. (The College Deans are the Deans with the real power at the university.)
  2. The Academic Council, the top academic decision-making body, is still at least 80 percent male.
  3. More than 95% of new directors of Institutes and research programmes at the university are men.
  4. July 2016 HEA figures show that NUI Galway ranks a clear last of all third-level institutions with 21% female senior staff (Senior Lecturers and Professors).
  5. The mandatory 40% female quota being adopted for the next promotion round is only 1% higher than the percentage of women promoted in the last round.

‘The continued failure of NUI Galway to address this injustice is the clearest indication of their real attitude to women,’ she wrote.

She said, in fact, the university is doing all it can to prevent the five women from getting justice. That’s why the benefit concert is being held on Wednesday, March 29th at the Black Box. It is not just about raising money but also awareness of what is happening. And that’s why the Students’ Union is providing buses to Dublin on May 4th so that students can protest outside the High Court. The demonstration is being held precisely to highlight the hypocrisy of what NUI Galway are attempting to do. Please come and join us and the students! 12 noon at the High Court, May 4th! We will be arranging our own bus for supporters.

 

Two years on and NUI Galway still haven’t learnt

When Micheline first won her case, Jim Browne, the University President, said he wasn’t concerned about the resulting bad publicity as it would soon be over, replaced by a positive news story about NUI Galway. Well, here we are, two years later and the fall-out from her win is still causing bad publicity for NUI Galway. That’s precisely because management continues with the same attitude that if they ignore it, eventually it will go away. Instead there’s recently been another flurry of press reports.

Meanwhile, the student supporters of the campaign have set up a table on Tuesdays on the University’s main concourse where they are signing people up for a demo at the upcoming High Court hearing. The campaign plans to hire a couple of buses to take everyone. A mass of students demonstrating outside the High Court in Dublin against NUI Galway is going to result in a  tidal wave of bad publicity. Will management never get it?

table-croped-1The student’s table, next to Smokey’s Café on the main concourse.

The students are fired up about the injustice. There are five other female lecturers who deserved promotion as much as Micheline in the same senior lecturer promotion round in which 16 men were promoted and only one woman, despite 50% of junior lecturers being women.  Micheline says she knows this as she saw the application details and scoring for everyone shortlisted. But management refuse to do anything about it, even to set up an enquiry – instead all they do is delay the resulting court cases. IFUT, the staff union that represent two of the five women, issued a statement last week accusing the university of deliberate delay. In response, NUI Galway issued their own press release claiming that was not the case.

But what are the facts? One of the women, represented by IFUT, is taking a Labour Court case. You’d think that would be straightforward. After all, NUI Galway admitted to the Equality Tribunal that one of the promoted men wasn’t even eligible to apply for promotion while the woman who is taking this Labour Court case was deemed next in line for promotion by the promotion board. Thus, she should have been promoted. But instead, at the initial grievance procedure meeting required by the Labour Court, NUI Galway failed to show up. Then when the actual Labour Court hearing happened, five months later, and the judge asked if NUI Galway were prepared to attend a grievance procedure meeting rather than him making a ruling, they said yes. That hearing was in early May, more than six months ago. There still hasn’t been a proper grievance procedure meeting! We hear that when they did finally attend a meeting last month, the three people representing NUI Galway said they couldn’t do anything as they hadn’t any of the paper work – this is despite one of them being at the Labour Court hearing where NUI Galway had all that paper work! It’s no wonder IFUT then issued their press statement accusing NUI Galway of deliberate delay.

The four other women have to take High Court cases based on gender discrimination. In October, NUI Galway’s lawyers applied for and received permission for a pre-trial hearing that would deal with the legal arguments alone. NUI Galway claimed this was to potentially save the cost of a full High Court hearing but what it will also do, if successful, is prevent the facts from coming out, the reasons for sixteen men and only one woman being promoted – facts that would, if Micheline is right, be very embarrassing for management. The date the four women have now been offered for this pre-hearing is May 4th, 2017! That means that even if NUI Galway lose the pre-hearing, the actual High Court action itself might not happen until 2018! And the University claims they are not delaying things!!

This continual delay is truly awful for the five women concerned, but it is also detrimental for the university. It means NUI Galway continues to get bad publicity. For instance, the students will be there demonstrating outside the pre-hearing as well as any main hearing if that also happens. It means NUI Galway can’t be considered for an Athena Swan award while there are pending legal cases – something the HEA has told universities they have to receive if they want continued funding. It makes no sense. Promoting the five women would cost less than the annual salary being paid to the new Vice President for Equality. That’s a post that seems to be mostly about optics rather than change. But what’s the point of spending all that money on optics when you continue to undermine her by refusing to promote the five women? The only people that seem to gain from this continued delaying are the management themselves. At the rate they are going they’ll all be well out of the place before anything happens. Jim Browne himself certainly will be. He retires at the start of March 2018.

 

IFUT Press statement: http://www.ifut.ie/content/nui-galway-punishing-women-who-highlighted-gender-discrimination-says-ifut

 

 

In latest stall tactic, NUIG gains approval for pre-trial hearing

Just the legal arguments, not the facts?

SUMMARY: As noted on this website on July 22nd, NUI Galway applied recently to the High Court seeking a pre-trial hearing of the cases being taken by the four female lecturers who are suing the university on the basis of gender discrimination in the 2008/9 round of promotion to Senior Lecturer. The judge ordered the preliminary hearing yesterday, as reported in The Irish Times. The Times story, which follows below, is mired in legalese, but basically the ruling means the judge considers that most of the issues in the women lecturers’ case can be decided independently of factual matters at the hearing. This is a stall tactic that is typical of the university, which is trying to prevent the facts of the case from coming out. It remains to be seen what will be decided at the pre-trial hearing, but this is only the beginning of the women lecturers’ fight for their right to be promoted. We’re not giving up.

Judge orders preliminary hearing in NUIG discrimination case

Four female lecturers alleging gender discrimination in a competition for promotion

The Equality Tribunal found in 2014 that NUIG lecturer, Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, was discriminated against on grounds of gender. File  Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy/The Irish TimesThe Equality Tribunal found in 2014 that NUIG lecturer, Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, was discriminated against on grounds of gender. File Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy/The Irish Times

A judge has granted an application by National University of Ireland Galway(NUIG) for a trial of preliminary legal issues before a full hearing of actions by four female lecturers.

They are alleging gender discrimination in a competition for promotion.

The preliminary issues centre on whether the lecturers’ claims can be dealt with by the High Court or must they be first determined by the Workplace Relations Commission and/or Circuit Court.

Mr Justice Donald Binchy on Tuesday granted the college’s application for a preliminary trial. A date for that will be fixed later.

Lawyers for the lecturers had argued the issues would be most appropriately dealt with at a full hearing as the cases raises “complex issues of Irish and EU law” and “matters of national public interest”.

In his brief ruling, Mr Justice Binchy said he considered most of the issues could be decided independently of factual matters at a pre-trial hearing.

Those include whether the Employment Equality Acts modify the lecturers contracts of employment to include an implied contractual right to gender equality and/or confer a cause of action for alleged breach of contract which can be heard by the High Court.

If the answer to that question is yes, the judge said the High Court should also decide whether the Acts require that any proceedings for redress for alleged breaches of rights be heard by the WRC or Circuit Court or could a claimant also seek redress under common law.

Other issues are whether EU law gives rise to an independent cause of action for damages in the High Court for alleged breach of an implied contractual right to gender equality and whether the Universities Act gives rise to a cause of action in the High Court for breach of contract.

Statute barred

Another issue concerning whether the lecturers’ cases were statute barred (brought outside the legal time limits) may involve mixed issues of law and fact, the judge noted. If the judge hearing the preliminary issues considered the statute point could not be determined without a full hearing, that issue would go forward to the full action, he said.

He will give a written judgment later outlining his full reasons for directing a trial of preliminary issues.

The cases arises after Dr Sylvie Lannegrand, Dr Rosin Healy, Dr Margaret Hodgins and Dr Adrienne Gorman made unsuccessful applications for promotion to positions of senior lecturer under a promotion process operated by the college between October 2008 and April 2009.

The four say they were treated less favourably by NUIG on grounds of gender and/or family status. They want various declarations including the promotion process breached their contracts of employment and contractual entitlement to gender equality along with provisions of the 1997 Universities Act, the Employment Equality Acts and EU law.

They also want orders promoting them to senior lecturers from July 1st 2009 and associated adjustments to their salaries, pension rights and other benefits effective from that date. They are also claiming damages.

NUIG denies the claims, pleads the lecturers have no cause of action against it in the High Court and the Workplace Relations Commission is the proper body charged with determining complaints of employment discrimination.

The actions were initiated after the Equality Tribunal found in 2014 another lecturer at NUIG, Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, was discriminated against on grounds of gender during the same promotion process.

The college was ordered to promote Dr Sheehy Skeffington, pay her €70,000 and review its appointments system.

And here is the link to the actual story in The Irish Times:

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/high-court/judge-orders-preliminary-hearing-in-nuig-discrimination-case-1.2734943