11/24/2014Ireland: Speed Camera Firm Fined For Worker Discrimination
Irish government fines photo enforcement firm $34,600 for discriminating against employee with post traumatic stress disorder.
Photo enforcement companies are finding themselves in increasingly hot water over their labor practices. The state of California has fined Redflex and American Traffic Solutions for underpaying its employees. A multimillion-dollar lawsuit is pending over poor pay and work conditions. The US Department of Labor ruled that Redflex fired US employees so that it could replace them with cheaper Australian workers. Now the Irish government has ruled that a speed camera consortium discriminated against an employee.
In a decision handed down last month, Ireland's Equality Tribunal found the Go Safe consortium had violated the rights of former employee John McDonald by firing him over a disability. Go Safe consists of Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia, Spectra of Ireland and Egis Projects of France.
McDonald had been on the job for just three months sitting in a Go Safe speed camera van when two vigilantes set fire to the automated ticketing vehicle while McDonald was inside. McDonald escaped the burning van without suffering any physical injury, but he claims he has since been wracked with sleepless nights and depression over the traumatic incident.
Go Safe covered the cost of a psychiatrist and counselor, but after seven months it fired McDonald. Medmark Occupational Healthcare examined McDonald and issued a report on June 27, 2011 saying it was not yet sure when McDonald would be ready to return to work. McDonald says he wanted to come up with a reasonable solution, but he says he was cut loose without any attempt at accommodation that would allow him to work doing something other than sitting in a camera van. McDonald appealed the decision, and GoSafe set up a company-run appeal hearing at Dublin Airport where his case was given five minutes of consideration before concluding that the firing was appropriate.
The photo enforcement consortium insisted that there was no job available for him to take, and since he was unable to do the work he was trained to do, he had to be terminated. This violated Irish law, according to the government's review.
"Although it is the respondent's contention that the complainant [McDonald] was dismissed due to his health and due to his inability to return to his position, it is clear that the complainant's absence and his inability to return to work were due to his disability it thus follows that the complainant's disability contributed to or was the reason for his dismissal," Equality Officer Orla Jones ruled. "I am thus satisfied that the decision to dismiss the complainant was influenced by his disability in that it was influenced by his absence and by his inability to return to his position. Accordingly based on the totality of the evidence adduced on this issue I am satisfied that the complainant has established a prima facie case of less favorable treatment on grounds of disability in relation to his dismissal."
Jones ordered the speed camera consortium to pay McDonald 28,000 euros (US $34,600) in compensation, an amount that is tax-free to McDonald.
A copy of the decision is available in a 100k PDF file at the source link below.