Former Specsavers Workers Awarded €12,000 after Wrongful Discriminatory Sacking

A branch of Specsavers located in Letterkenny, Co Donegal has been ordered to pay €12,000 by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) as wrongful dismissal compensation to a Muslim woman who was terminated from her position the day after the Manchester terror attack in 2017.

The WRC ruled that Letterkenny Specsavers Ltd discriminated against Amina Ferrah, using her religion as a basis for doing so. The presiding Adjudication Officer, Ms Emer O’Shea, said she was satisfied on the basis of the proof shown to her that Ms Ferrah’s sacking prior to the standard three-month review constituted less favourable treatment on the grounds of religious discrimination.

Ms Ferrah told the WRC she was let go from her job on discriminatory grounds “as a knee-jerk reaction” to the fact that she was clearly identifiable as a Muslim. She added that her employer “may have been overly concerned about public sentiment following the Manchester terror attack and the impact it might have on their business”.

The Letterkenny branch of Specsavers vehemently denied the discrimination claim and claimed, at the hearing, that the decision to terminate Ms Ferrah’s employment on the spot was purely down to her professional performance in the role.

Adjudication Officers of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) are statutorily independent in their decision making duties as they relate to adjudicating on complaints referred to them by the WRC Director General.

Adjudicating Officer Ms O’Shea commented, in finding that the Specsavers branch did discriminate against Ms Ferrah, that it was accepted by the company that reviews of new employees would take place after an initial period of three months employment.

In this instance, however, there was no official records of any professional reviews taking place to support the company’s contention of ongoing reviews taking place. Neither were there any recorded accounts of any performance deficits registered during the period that Ms Ferrah was employed at Specsavers Letterkenny present to the WRC.