A Dublin natural stone product and tile outlet has been told to pay out €1,500 to a headscarf-wearing woman after she was asked at interview where she was from originally.
At the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), Adjudicator Marian Duffy has ordered Deeward Ltd to pay Narimene Saad for discriminating against her on race grounds under the Employment Equality Act over the question asked at interview.
Ms Saad was born in Algeria and came to Germany with her parents as a young child where she grew up and was educated before coming to Ireland nine years ago.
Mother of two, Ms Saad wears a headscarf and applied for part-time work as an administrative assistant with the firm.
In her findings, Ms Duffy noted that Ms Saad said that at interview on April 6th, 2021 she was asked by the firm’s Operations Manager, Ray Sood where she was from and when she said Germany, he pursued the matter and asked where she was originally from.
Ms Saad told the WRC that this question in her opinion, should not be asked.
Ms Duffy stated that Mr Sood accepted during the course of his evidence that he asked Ms Saad where she was from, but he was unable to say if he had asked the same question of all the other candidates he interviewed that day.
Ms Duffy stated that she was satisfied that Mr Sood did not ask the Irish candidate and candidates of a different nationality to and who were not wearing a headscarf, about their nationality.
The firm - with a registered address of The Dockrell’s Complex, Ballymount Rd Upper, Dublin 24 - said the question was asked in the context of a friendly chat as Mr Sood is the son of immigrants from India.
Ms Duffy, however, concluded “I cannot accept that it was an appropriate question."
She noted in particular that Mr Sood did not accept Ms Saad's original answer that she is from Germany and pursued the issue and this could convey an indication he did not employ people from certain countries.
The firm denied that the question was discriminatory. The role was filled by another candidate.
Mr Sood said that the company has 70 employees and about half of them are non-Irish - 22 from Poland, one from Brazil, India, Italy, Romania and England, five Croatian and two Russian.
Mr Sood said that he is involved in all aspects of the business and he has been employing people and doing interviews for 20 years and as far as he is aware there never has been a complaint about his interview technique before.
He said he cannot remember if he made a comment about the headscarf, but he asked Ms Saad where she was from as he believed they had something in common.
Mr Sood said that he wouldn’t have asked it if he thought it would have made her feel uncomfortable.
Ms Duffy found that a separate claim made by Ms Saad of discriminatory treatment on the religion ground in relation to access to employment was not well-founded.