When a recruitment process goes wrong

Last updated: August 10th, 2023

Adjudication Decision Reference: ADJ-00000107
We are reviewing a recent case from the Workplace Relations Commission which highlights the importance of employers following a clear, transparent and fair interview process.

  • Complaints Case:

    The complainant was employed as an Orchestral Assistant (henceforward OA) on a casual basis since 2001. In 2008 when the Senior Orchestral Assistant position was advertised he applied but. He was unsuccessful. He says he was told then that he was the second best candidate.
    Since then he worked as an OA when called upon and in September 2014, after the Senior OA retired, he filled the position of Orchestral Assistant up until May 2015. Apart from one other named employee he felt he was the most qualified and experienced candidate for the role of Senior Orchestral Assistant. There were two competitions to fill posts in 2015.
    The complainant believes he was overlooked for the position of Senior Orchestral Assistant as a result of discrimination based on his nationality, (he is Irish). He also claims indirect victimisation which he says is a consequence of his relationship with past and present members of the grade of OA’s.
    He also felt that proposed changes in Orchestral Assistants’ “Terms and Conditions” by management affected his selection for the vacated position. He expressed a belief that the orchestra Manager was prejudiced against him on the nationality ground as evidenced by her allegedly asking a non-Irish national to work free of charge as Orchestral Assistant. He says that there can be no reason other than race/nationality to explain the appointment of the Latvian candidate to the positon of Senior OA in June 2015.

  • Respondents Case:

    The respondent submitted that in September 2104 when the Senior Orchestral Assistant retired it restructured the positon; dividing those former duties between the Orchestra Manager and two OA’s on an interim basis. The complainant was engaged through a contractor to fill one of the OA roles. However this arrangement was unsatisfactory and it was decided to advertise the position in March 2015. The applicants comprised five Irish citizens, one Australian and two from the UK.
    Objective criteria were set which were detailed in evidence at the hearing and an Interview Board set up and interviews were held. A scoring system was used. They showed the complainant scores to be the lowest by some distance; scoring 2/20 in relation to Supervising and Problem Solving, for example. He scored 46/100 compared to 91/100 achieved by two other candidates. One of these (an Irish citizen) was offered the position but eventually declined thereby requiring a second competition.
    In the interim the complainant was offered work as an OA but declined. He requested and was given feedback on the first interview by the HR Manager who gave direct evidence. A Latvian National AN was appointed to the role as OA in which he had no previous experience but did have other relevant experience in concert and event management.
    The second competition took place in June 2015 and this produced three candidates including the complainant and AN who had been acting as an AO. The complainant scored lowest of the three candidates and AN was appointed.
    DW the orchestra manager and who was a member of the interview board gave detailed evidence on the four specific areas on which candidates were questioned, and the venue layout test which was put to them. There were questions on maintaining the safety of instruments and on general Health and Safety issues. She gave detailed evidence on the scoring by each candidate under the four headings and on the nature of the answers given by the candidates. The respondent says that of the three competitions for Senior AO in which the complainant competed two of the successful candidates were Irish nationals. It rejects the specific complaint of bias against a named manager on the basis that the person named did not have the final role in decision making for orchestra appointments.
    The decision as to who would be recommended for the position was made by the interview board, and not the sole individual alleged by the complainant to have been prejudiced against him, although no evidence was offered to support this. The orchestra manager also gave evidence as to the different levels of responsibility between the OA and Senior OA.

  • The Decision:

    The adjudications officer dismissed the claim under the Employment Equality Act, 1998 as they found the employee could not make a prima facia case of discrimination against the employer. The adjudications officer comments within the decision that
    “the respondent conducted the interview process in respect of both competitions in 2015 to a high standard of best practice and integrity and that the interview board made its recommendations to the final decision maker based on the outcome of a rigorous, objective process which could not be faulted”
    This decision emphasises the importance of having a clear recruitment policy in place and following a structured interview process with evidence to show how the company reached their decision.

    If you would like any further details on recruitment process or training in relation to managing a recruitment process you can speak with a HR Consultant on 01 886 0350

Book a call with a consultant

Complete the form below and a consultant will call you as soon as possible.

Book a call with a consultant

Complete the form below and a consultant will call you as soon as possible.

Latest Resources

Employer’s guide to lay-offs in Ireland

It’s common for businesses facing a downturn in trade to let employees go on a temporary basis. As an employer, you may also need to […]

Long-term sickness absence: When to conduct an informal welfare meeting

Everyone gets sick, so short-term sickness absence is something all employers will have to deal with from time to time and tends to cause minimal […]

Notice periods: an employer’s guide

Within a business, it’s constantly necessary to re-evaluate and adjust workforce planning. Whether this is due to employees looking for different career paths or the […]

Olga Shevchenko

Director/Advocate, Immigration Advice Bureau

Olga Shevchenko specialises in immigration advocacy and consultancy, in particular, employment permit, visas, family reunification, citizenship, etc, for those seeking to visit, reside or invest in Ireland.

Olga provides extensive information, knowledge, and support to her clients, enabling access to positive solutions for people struggling to handle the immigration law.

Minister Neale Richmond

Minister of State, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Neale Richmond TD was appointed as Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with special responsibility for Employment Affairs and Retail Business and the Department of Social Protection in January 2023.

Much of his work at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is with businesses, workers, their representative bodies and the State Agencies to ensure that the economic recovery and growth extends to all parts of the country. He works closely with the SME sector, including retail, on building resilience and on the transition to the green and digital economies.

Mark Carpenter

Director of Regulatory & Corporate Affairs, Sky

Mark Carpenter is Director of Regulatory & Corporate Affairs at Sky Ireland. In this role he has responsibility for External and Internal Communications, Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs and the company’s ‘Bigger Picture’ (CSR) programme. He also works closely with Sky Group teams on a variety of matters, in particular our partnerships with domestic broadcasters.

Prior to working at Sky, Mark worked as a Policy Officer in Houses of the Oireachtas and as a Management Consultant at Accenture. He has a BA in History from Oxford University and a PhD in Political Science from Trinity College Dublin.

Nora Cashe

Litigation and Compliance Manager, Peninsula

Nóra studied Law in Griffith College Dublin and qualified as a Barrister in 2008, practising in the area of Criminal law. She is also member of the Irish Employment Law Association.

Nora has extensive experience representing clients at Employment Tribunal hearings, Conciliation / Mediation meetings before both the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court. 

Nóra is a member of the Irish Employment Law Association and engages with the WRC Adjudication Service as part of their stakeholder engagement forum.

Deiric McCann

Managing Director, Genos International Europe

Deiric McCann leads Genos International Europe – The EU division of a world-leading provider of emotional intelligence solutions. 

With over two decades experience at the highest levels of management, Deiric supports clients to develop the resilience, emotional intelligence, psychological safety and engagements of their employees.

Rhiannon Coyne

Senior HR Consultant, Graphite HRM

Rhiannon Coyne is a Senior HR Consultant at Graphite HRM and will be providing an overview of best practice on how to deal with complaints of bullying and harassment in the workplace. 

With a number of recent updates to employment laws, Rhiannon will take a closer look at employment equality and how it is interlinked to Health & Safety and what employers can learn from recent case laws.

David Begg

Chairman, Workplace Relations Commission

David Begg was appointed Chairperson of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in January 2021.

David is also a professor at Maynooth University Institute of Social Sciences. Mr Begg’s extensive history in the trade union movement included leading the ESB Officers Association and Irish Congress of Trade Unions, stepping away from the latter in 2001 to chair international aid agency Concern.

David Begg was also previously a director of the Central Bank of Ireland between 1995 and 2010.