UCD lecturer loses High Court discrimination case

A UCD lecturer has lost a High Court action alleging a failure to promote her to the rank of professor in 2007 amounted to gender discrimination.

Business and Law lecturer Dr Eleanor O’Higgins challenged the Labour Court’s dismissal of her complaint of gender bias in the decision made by UCD’s Promotions Committee, asking the High Court to quash the dismissal and to rehear the matter.

The Labour Court had found there was independent evidence to show that O’Higgins met the criteria for promotion, and had expressed ‘considerable disquiet’ about the gender composition of the committee, of which 12 out of 13 members were male.

The court was also concerned that there were no minutes taken during the deliberations of the committee.

Following an inquiry, the Labour Court accepted as truthful evidence that the committee had rejected her application because she didn’t meet the standard required for promotion.

O’Higgins challenged the decision made, claiming the Labour Court failed to give due importance to the gender composition of the UCD Promotions Committee, as well as the relevant business ethics expertise of the panel.

Mr Justice John Cooke said the issue the court faced was not whether O’ Higgins deserved the promotion, but whether the decision amounted to gender discrimination.

The judge also said that even if O’Higgins’ criticisms of the competence of committee members had some merit, it did not follow that they would be incapable of reaching a decision without gender bias.

In the 2007 round of promotions, three men were promoted to professor status within the UCD School of Business and Law.

UCD rejected the claims that O’Higgins’ unsuccessful application for promotion was tainted by gender bias.

Bryan Grogan

Image Credit: William Murphy via Flickr Creative Commons

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