RTÉ newsreader seeks €300,000 damages above sexual harassment by inappropriate texts from senior colleague

A former RTÉ newsreader found to have been sexually harassed by inappropriate texts from a senior newsroom colleague just 10 days before she was owing to be married is trying to find damages of up to €300,000 more than the broadcaster’s handling of the affair.

asia Czernik has to the Office Relations Commission below the Work Equality Act 1999, alleging that RTÉ was in breach by refusing to explain to her the disciplinary sanction meted out to fellow night time-shift anchor news Noel Fogarty, who was sacked very last September.

His dismissal was on foot of a getting that Ms Czernik had been sexually harassed by a series of texts, emails and attempted cellphone calls from Friday 18 to Monday 21 June that calendar year, the tribunal was advised.

“My dwelling and bed room will be open up to you,” study a person, with a further giving Ms Czernik a spare critical.

“This was 10 times right before her wedding,” her solicitor Barry Crushell advised the tribunal.

Following she brought the texts to the notice of her line manager, Paul Ferris, Mr Fogarty was suspended pending investigation and Ms Czernik was informed she would not have to function with him, the tribunal listened to.

Investigators located the messages ended up “intrusive, invasive, unwelcome and unwanted, both in their articles and their persistence”, the report uncovered.

Giving evidence, the complainant mentioned she was happy with the report but that she was not made knowledgeable of any disciplinary proceedings in opposition to Mr Fogarty at that position.

“I only learned from the latest posting in the press particularly what took place. I was never totally informed of what occurred to him in terms of his function – whether or not he was suspended or what ever,” Ms Czernik mentioned.

“I know it truly is tough to fully grasp [but] when you might be in a problem like this you need to have pretty crystal clear data,” she reported.

She additional that she lifted issues at afterwards conferences about stability arrangements for the night time change on the RTÉ campus, which she said experienced “numerous strategies in and out”.

Head of HR for RTÉ News and Present Affairs Tanya McNulty stated in her proof that Mr Fogarty was instructed from the outset of his suspension pending investigation not to make contact with Ms Czernik both right or by any other colleague.

“We had also taken off his [security] tag entry so he had no direct access to buildings on the RTÉ site,” she said.

She claimed there experienced been a series of “check-in” conferences with Ms Czernik heading into the autumn of 2021 right after the report was issued and when Mr Fogarty was pleasing his dismissal.

Ms McNulty claimed that there have been “procedures not complete” at the time of a assembly in mid-Oct which prevented her from supplying Ms Czernik details on the consequence of the issue.

She mentioned she Mr Ferris could be “categoric that [Mr Fogarty] was no lengthier used by RTÉ” forward of one more look at-in assembly in December that calendar year, which she included experienced been attended by the complainant’s solicitor.

Mr Crushell submitted that the notes taken at these conferences experienced not been circulated to his customer for remark as minutes.

Ms McNulty reported she was “amazed” by Ms Czernik’s resignation the subsequent March.

“She’s a really valued employee, a really valued colleague, who had incredibly excellent relations with her line supervisor,” she claimed.

She went on to give evidence on stability preparations at the RTÉ newsroom.

Less than cross-examination from Mr Crushell, she acknowledged Ms Czernik had stated she discovered it difficult to be on the RTÉ campus at night following the harassment.

Under even more questioning from the adjudicating officer, Maria Kelly, Ms McNulty stated thought was offered to switching the complainant to a daytime roster but that management “never ever experienced an opportunity to have that dialogue” with Ms Czernik.

“In phrases of the human component, the engagement, that’s exactly where we really feel RTÉ unsuccessful in its responsibility of care,” Mr Crushell mentioned.

“We would contend that victims of sexual harassment have a suitable to know the effects a harasser faces,” he explained.

He reported that the broadcaster experienced been remaining with a conflict amongst the privacy legal rights of the guy disciplined about the texts and his client’s “right to closure”.

He extra that details on the sanction utilized could have been given with a proviso that it was however topic to appeal when his client questioned.

“This is a assert Ms Czernik has built for €300,000 compensation, much in surplus of the jurisdiction. It is a assert that should fall short,” stated Mairead McKenna SC, who appeared for the broadcaster.

Ms McKenna mentioned the RT HR officer experienced been “refined in her communications” to the complainant at the December meeting when she had claimed the perpetrator was no for a longer period operating for RTÉ.

Counsel argued that the complainant’s solicitor, who the tribunal listened to experienced attended that conference, should really have been equipped to “read concerning the lines” and suggest his shopper on the circumstance.

She stated Mr Fogarty was entitled to avail of procedures and get an enchantment.

She said Mr Ferris and Ms McNulty “acted in an exemplary manner and could not be criticized” and urged the adjudicating officer to discover RTÉ had built out a defense underneath the act.

Adjudicating officer Maria Kelly shut the listening to and reported she would concern her decision to the events in owing system.

Very last month Mr Fogarty withdrew a grievance beneath the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977 hard his sacking for gross misconduct soon after the texts had been study out at hearing by the investigation chair, Sarah Daly BL.

She gave evidence that Mr Fogarty experienced admitted sending the messages and that he was “inebriated” as a final result of his alcoholic beverages habit for several of them.

Ms Daly included that equally Mr Fogarty and Ms Czernik had absolutely acknowledged the findings of a draft report which designed a locating of sexual harassment, and that this then grew to become the closing report with no revisions.

Soon after a crack in Ms Daly’s evidence, Mr Fogarty tackled the tribunal and claimed he was finding the course of action “very stressful” and declared that he was withdrawing his declare.

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