Tom – Discrimination in the workplace

Tom was residing in a Direct Provision Centre as an asylum seeker. He was hired during the pandemic and was an essential worker.  Some months into his employment, any employees who resided in Direct Provision Centres were told not to come to work, with the employer citing “health concerns” related to living in a communal environment. Tom made arrangements to privately rent an apartment so he could continue to work but was completely unsustainable financially and he had no option but to return to living in the Direct Provision Centre. Other employees resided in communal settings, but only employees in Direct Provision Centres were told not to come to work. If they wanted to come back to work, they were required to provide unspecified public health documentation proving that they were not living in a communal environment. Tom could not afford to live elsewhere. He proposed working night shifts instead of day shifts, as it would be easier to remain separated from other workers, but the employer denied this accommodation.

Tom came to CLM looking for guidance, believing he was discriminated against by his employer. CLM wrote to the company detailing the discriminatory behaviour and setting out Tom’s rights as an employee. When this did not resolve the matter, CLM lodged a claim under the Employment Equality Acts with the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) on his behalf and made detailed legal submissions supporting the argument that Tom had been discriminated against on the grounds of race. Once the employer received these submissions, they requested a meeting with CLM to discuss the matter. The parties reached an agreement before the matter came before the WRC.