McGettigan v Short Brothers plc [2011] NICty 4

Posted In: Case Law
  • Case Reference
    NICty 4
  • Legal Body
    Other Tribunals & Courts
  • Type of Claim / Jurisdiction
    Discrimination and Equality
Issues covered: Religious Discrimination

A Catholic worker at aerospace firm Short Brothers, who suffered religious discrimination via a “chillingly frightening” campaign of sectarian text threats, was awarded damages of £11,500. The claimant was warned in messages to watch his back and told there were too many “Taigs” working at the company's Belfast plant.

Mr McGettigan brought a case over intimidation he became embroiled in after buying a car from another Catholic worker at Shorts in 2007. Two years earlier this colleague, known as PB, who operated a sideline as a car dealer, reported to his employers that he received threats, including a live bullet and a sympathy card in his work locker. PB also claimed that in the company car park, a Protestant colleague produced an AK47 gun from under a blanket in his car and asked him to buy it for £600. In May 2007, Mr McGettigan reported to his line manager that he had received a text message instructing him to tell PB to stop what he was doing or else he would be shot.

Judge McReynolds held that Shorts took no steps over any internal investigation, risk assessment or policy announcement. The judge ruled that no defence had been established. “The nature and circumstances of the plaintiff's employment were that this company had a predominantly Protestant workforce and is located in a predominantly Protestant part of the city. It was aware of the receipt by the plaintiff of a series of intimidating messages. It had policies which were not implemented.”

She added: "The reality of this shop floor is that, with full knowledge that a long-serving employee of good standing and proven integrity reported chillingly frightening sectarian texts to various managers, the employer did nothing beyond providing a room for police interviews."

Judge McReynolds, sitting at Belfast County Court, found the employer to be vicariously liable for threatening text messages sent to the Plaintiff by work colleagues in a predominantly Protestant workforce. The court "...is obliged to 'look at the situation in the round' and take account of the policy considerations which underpin the revised test."

The court held that policies to deal with bullying issues were not implemented.

 

This article is correct at 10/02/2012
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