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Saturday 22 September 2018

Nurse who lost out on 11 promotions alleges racial discrimination

Somy Thomas has worked at Beaumont since 2004
Somy Thomas has worked at Beaumont since 2004

An Indian nurse who alleged racial discrimination after being passed over for promotion 11 times has brought a legal challenge over the dismissal of her complaint.

The High Court judicial review proceedings by Somy Thomas, of Artane, Dublin, arise from a determination of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) rejecting a complaint brought on her behalf by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) in late 2016.

It was stated that Ms Thomas is a staff nurse who has worked at Beaumont Hospital since 2004, has completed a post-graduate diploma in respiratory nursing and is undertaking a Masters.

She had applied for specialist and management jobs at every opportunity but was overlooked or refused.

The challenge said that when she complained of racial discrimination, the hospital did not accept any responsibility and suggested the problem did not lie with it but rather with the overseas nurses and the claimant.

The INMO set out in detail the history of the jobs she had applied for and noted that she had more overall experience, specialised experience and qualifications than the successful candidates for promotion who, with one exception, were all Irish.

Her counsel, Shane Manus Quinn, told Mr Justice Seamus Noonan yesterday that Ms Thomas is a highly qualified and experienced staff nurse.

He said a WRC adjudication officer (AO), John Tierney, "bizarrely" dismissed the complaint of racial discrimination without hearing any evidence on behalf of Ms Thomas, who had made clear to Mr Tierney she wished to give evidence.

Witnesses

The court was told the AO opened the hearing on July 5 last year and asked the sides if they had any witnesses.

The hospital said it had some witnesses and the AO asked those to leave the room, saying their evidence would be heard later.

It is claimed Mr Tierney then asked the sides to open their submissions and Ms Thomas said that was done on her behalf by her INMO representative.

The hospital, as part of its submissions, raised an issue over whether the complaint was out of time.

It was claimed that Mr Tierney said he wanted to check out the case law on that point and adjourned the hearing, saying a full day would be set aside to hear evidence of the witnesses and the sides would be informed of that date.

Mr Quinn said some months passed, after which a chain of emails passed between the INMO representative for Ms Thomas and the WRC enquiring about when the case would resume and raising concerns about the delays.

They were later informed no second date was being fixed and Mr Tierney proposed to issue a determination of the complaint.

Mr Tierney's determination last April 10 said, from evidence at the hearing, that it was not possible to conclude Ms Thomas was discriminated against on grounds of race and dismissed her complaint.

Mr Quinn said that determination was "bizarre".

Mr Justice Noonan said he was satisfied to grant the app- lication for leave for judicial review. He adjourned the matter to October.

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