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Guinness Storehouse to pay €2,000 over age bias question at job interview

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Guinness Storehouse in Dublin

Guinness Storehouse in Dublin

Guinness Storehouse in Dublin

operators of the country's top tourist attraction must pay compensation after an unsuccessful job applicant was asked at interview how she would settle into a "young" workplace.

The Workplace Relations Commission ordered the Guinness Storehouse to give Eileen Owens €2,000 after it ruled the question discriminated against her on the grounds of age.

Adjudication officer Roger McGrath said there was no doubt Ms Owens was asked how she would settle into a "young" workplace.

"I can think of no reason why this question would be asked except to find out the complainant's view of her ability to carry out the role of financial assistant, given her age," he said.

"Whether conscious or unconscious, this question indicates age was a factor in the selection process, with a bias towards younger candidates."

Ms Owens was one of 136 people applying for the job and nine were called for interview.

Mr McGrath said a younger candidate was successful, and he found Ms Owens had been treated less favourably.

He rejected the Guinness Storehouse contention that the question did not indicate an intention to discriminate on age and that Ms Owens was reading too much into a few words.

Principle

Ms Owens said she lodged her claim as a matter of principle and to prevent it happening in the future.

She said she was asked: "We are a very young team here. How would you feel about that?"

Ms Owens said the interviewer prefaced her comment with: "I probably shouldn't be asking this, but am going to ask it anyway."

She was taken aback by it but answered as best she could, her reply along the lines of: "I'm young at heart, I don't look my age. I have a 24-year-old daughter. I am experienced at work and work well with all colleagues, regardless of age."

She said she had found it difficult to concentrate for the rest of the interview, in disbelief at the question she had been asked.

Ms Owens added that she could not understand why the Human Resources Business Partner on the panel had not intervened.

She felt aggrieved at how the interview was conducted and said it left her apprehensive at other interviews.

After Ms Owens failed to get the post, the Guinness Storehouse told her she was "over-qualified" for the position but would be positive towards her for any future, more senior financial roles.

The firm denied it had discriminated against her.

It denied the question was put to Ms Owens at all and further denied that any discriminatory ground informed the firm's thinking and decision-making.

The firm also denied that any question was put to Ms Owens with any intention of being discriminatory on age grounds.

The interviewer accepted she had asked a question using the word "young" in reference to the culture of the workplace.

She denied she had said: "I shouldn't be asking this."

Asked what she meant by young, the interviewer said she should have just said "fast-paced".


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