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upset Dublin hotel pays €12,500 compo after manager repeatedly called new waiter 'Chico'

The manager argued that he referred to all employees as 'Chico'

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A well-known Dublin hotel has been ordered to pay out €12,500 compensation after a manager repeatedly called a new waiter ‘Chico’.

This follows Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudicator, Brian Dalton ordering Red Cow Moran Hotel to pay Filipe Ongaro €12,500 for racially discriminating against him when a manager called him ‘Chico’ repeatedly on his first shift at the hotel on December 4th 2020.

In his findings, Mr Dalton stated that he was making the €12,500 award under the Employment Equality Act for the effects of discrimination “as a proportionate and dissuasive award”.

Mr Dalton noted that the interaction complained of was not a repeated pattern and occurred on one shift, that the manager and the hotel have apologised for the conduct. and that he found Mr Ongaro - who represented himself at the WRC hearing - “to be truthful and credible”.

Mr Dalton stated that the use of the word 'Chico' by the manager and the continued use of the word when it was brought to his attention was offensive and constitutes a case of discrimination.

He added that the continued use of the term 'Chico' when clearly informed that it was offensive constitutes harassment.

The manager stated that he referred to all employees as ‘Chico’ and that he had no intention of offending or upsetting Mr Ongaro.

However, Mr Dalton stated that he didn’t find that defence credible.

He said the term ‘Chico’ on the balance of probabilities would not have been used when referring to a person of Irish origin and therefore the rebuttal of the prima facie case fails.

Mr Dalton found that there can be no question that the term 'Chico' is offensive and is a derogatory term for people of Latin American descent.

He stated: “In an employment context where the workforce is comprised of many staff members from diverse backgrounds and different nationalities such a term is starkly at odds with the hotel’s stated policy.”

In his evidence, Mr Ongaro stated that the manager in question began to call him 'Chico' after he started his shift although he could clearly see his name tag with his name on it at all times.

He said: "The first time he did this I said 'Excuse me, what did you call me?' and he continued to repeat 'Chico, Chico'. I asked him not to speak to me like this and pointed out that my name was Filipe but he dismissed my concerns and said he talks to everyone like this. I was very uncomfortable for the remainder of my shift.”

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Mr Ongaro didn’t know who to complain to and contacted the employment agency that had placed him in the role.

However, Mr Ongaro was not working as an agency worker and was placed with the hotel as an employee.

The next day when Mr Ongaro started his shift, he was still very angry and found it hard not to talk to others about how he was treated and a Duty Manager asked him to go home because he was so upset.

The manager told the WRC hearing that he apologised and realises that the term he used was offensive but he did not at the time.

The manager stated that he did not single out Mr Ongaro to call ‘Chico’ rather it was a term that he used generally and which he is now very embarrassed about.

The manager accepts that the 'Chico' term “was an offensive, inappropriate remark”.

Concerning a separate claim of victimisation made by Mr Ongaro, Mr Dalton found that Mr Ongaro was not dismissed arising from making a complaint concerning racial discrimination and for opposing discrimination and was not victimised.

Mr Dalton stated that the hotel shut down in January 2021 and remained closed for a number of months with staff in effect on lay-off due to Covid-19.

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