UCD academic, troche Dr. Eleanor O’Higgins, order who is a senior lecturer in the School of Law and Business, generic claimed that she was not promoted to a professor because of her gender rather than her quality of work.

Dr. O’Higgins was initially recommended for promotion to the UCAATP committee, which is the promotions committee in UCD, in 2007 by both a committee from the UCD School of Law and Business and by an external assessor. O’Higgins was one of 19 candidates of which 4 were female. From these candidates 2 women were promoted along with 6 men, 3 of which were promoted to professor within the School of Law and Business. The two women were promoted within the Arts faculty.

The case was brought to the Labour Court and was heard in November 2012.  Although expressing concerns about some aspects of the UCD promotions process including the gender composition of the UCAATP committee which heard the application, which consisted of 12 men and 1 woman, and the fact that there was no written record of UCAATP’s deliberations, the Labour Court ultimately determined there was no gender discrimination in the rejection of Dr. O’Higgins application.

Dr. O’Higgins has appealed this decision to the High Court on the grounds of the manner in which the Labour Court assessed the evidence in relation to her promotion. Disputing this, on behalf of UCD, was Cliona Kimber BL, who argued the evidence indicated the Labour Court had properly scrutinised the information before it and correctly came to the decision that UCD was not guilty of gender discrimination.

Mr Justice John Cooke, of the High Court proceedings, heard final statements on behalf of both UCD and Dr. O’Higgins. He then directed the Labour Court to reconsider its August 2013 rejection of the claim of gender discrimination.

To date there has been no resolution to the matter and proceedings are ongoing.