In the recent Equality Tribunal decision of Brian Buggle v City of Dublin VEC, a former teacher was held to have been discriminated against in relation to his access to employment.

The Complainant, Mr. Buggle, had worked for the Respondent for nearly ten years when he reached the compulsory retirement age in 2011. Following his retirement, Mr. Buggle informed the Respondent of his intention to still teach part-time and his name was placed on the teacher contract list. In August 2011, a position became available for a part-time teacher in health and safety, which Mr. Buggle applied for. However, he was subsequently informed that he was not being shortlisted for interview. The Complainant was never provided for the reasons for choosing not to include him on the interview shortlist.

Mr. Buggle subsequently found out that a newly qualified teacher had been awarded the position, despite having no prior qualifications in health and safety. The Respondent submitted to the Tribunal that they were bound by a Department of Education circular which stated that they should give first preference to unemployed teachers before offering employment to retired teachers.

The Tribunal found that the Complainant had been discriminated against on the basis of his age and they then tried to determine as to whether there was an objective reason for this discrimination. The Tribunal noted that in order to be awarded the teacher position, the candidate has to be registered with the Teaching Council. However, this was not the case with the successful candidate who was permitted to work in the position whilst he waited for his registration to come through. The Tribunal was also influenced by the fact that the person who was responsible for determining the interview shortlist was not present at the Tribunal hearing and therefore they were unable to question him on the rationale of his decision. Accordingly, the Tribunal found that there was no objective justification for the discrimination and awarded Mr. Buggle €8,000 in compensation for the distress suffered.

When choosing which candidates to select for a job interview, employers should ensure that all prospective employees are treated equally and that they do not treat one candidate more favourably than another, as in the above decision.

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