A woman in Ireland who was slapped on the bottom with a ruler during a staff meeting has settled a sexual harassment case for 90,000 pounds (about Rs 90 lakh).
According to the BBC, the woman, during a workplace meeting in 2021, was told to stand up and turn around by a male manager, who then proceeded to smack her on the bottom with a ruler. The manager then said, “I’m sorry, I had to”. The woman claimed that when she asked another male manager present if that was allowed, the two men treated the incident as a joke and told other employees who arrived at the meeting what happened.
The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that when she attempted to raise the issue with the higher authorities of her company based in Northern Ireland, they did not acknowledge it for 10 days and then took another five weeks to uphold it. In fact, according to the outlet, the woman stated that her former employer alleged that she had “dressed and behaved provocatively” after she raised a grievance with them.
Following the incident, the woman initially felt embarrassed to talk about what happened, but later she told her employers she would not return to the office until the issue was addressed. She even turned down an offer to meet a more senior manager, as well as the manager who slapped her, at a coffee shop off-site to resolve the issue, as she felt that was inappropriate. She said that the manager she accused of slapping her later resigned.
Geraldine McGahey, the chief commissioner of the Equality Commission, described the incident as a shocking and distressing case. According to the outlet, Ms McGahey also stated that the investigation made the woman feel like a “perpetrator rather than a victim”.
“I think it really demonstrates very clearly that this organisation has a really toxic culture, a laddish culture and they just didn’t respect or have any regard for their women employees,” Ms McGahey added.
According to her, the woman “suffered severe embarrassment and humiliation”. “She was talked about in the office. I really respect the complainant, that she wants to remain anonymous, she wants to get away from the embarrassment and humiliation that she feels is attached to it,” Ms McGahey said.
Now, as part of the settlement, the woman is also working with the equality commission to ensure it has comprehensive policies on sexual harassment and proper training for staff.
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