The State Claims Agency has recently released a report on employee sexual harassment in the healthcare system following public pressure from several bodies to do so.
RTE, the state broadcaster, recently aired a damning report which revealed sexual harassment legal actions was taken by five members of staff employed in the State healthcare system over the last number of years. These staff members stated in their claim that they had been assaulted by users of the healthcare service. The complaints were made to the State Claims Agency.
The Agency has not released specific details about where the alleged abuse took place in any individual cases. However, the report was able to announce that the claims are in connection with incidents that happened between 2012 and 2016. The five claims make up almost 50% all sexual harassment claims currently being handled by the State Claims Agency for the State.
Fianna Fail and the Oireachtas Justice Committee publicly called for the State Claims Agency to release the report, breaking down of all sexual harassment claims made against individual public sector bodies available for scrutiny. The State Claims Agency had initially declined to release any information on such claims. Further requests for the information came following the initial refusal by the State Claims Agency to release such a breakdown, by employer and sector, of all the sexual harassment claims which it handles on the State’s behalf.
Additionally, in November 2017 The Oireachtas Justice and Equality Committee made contact with Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan requesting him to support a call for the data to be released. As a result of this persistent pressure, the State Claims Agency made a limited amount of information on the number of such claims available. The SCA did not say where the incidents that claims arose from happened.
In an official statement released the State Claims Agency confirmed that it has managed 11 claims of sexual harassment in the workplace, which it said were “referable to three State Authorities, inclusive of all Delegated Healthcare Agencies, in the years 2012 to 2016”.
It also confirmed that in six of the 11 cases they’ve handled the alleged assailant and assailed person are both staff members. In the remaining five incidents they said the individual believed responsible for the assault was a service user in the healthcare area and the victim of the assault was a member of staff.
The State Claims Agency (SCA) said that “The claims that the SCA handle, of this nature, are claims which are wholly or mainly ones seeking compensation for injury (mental or physical). We also need further information on the manner in which the SCA deals with such claims, how many of the cases end up in court, full details of all the costs incurred and whether the State seeks to recoup any of these costs from the alleged assailant.”