Car rental group Enterprise ordered to pay woman employee €10,000 over pay difference

Worker learned after taking on new role in company that men were earning €4,000 more for same job

Vehicle rental group Enterprise has been ordered to pay €10,000 in compensation to a worker who said she was “humiliated” and forced to return to an old role after discovering her salary upon promotion was to be thousands of euro less than the pay for men in the same role elsewhere in the organisation.

The worker, Bernadette Ryan, told the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) she had been told the salary would be €39,000 to €40,000 before she went for the job as an assistant depot manager with ERAC Ireland Ltd trading as Enterprise Flex-E-Rent.

She was previously working part-time at the depot in Dublin, earning €31,000 for part-time hours, the tribunal was told.

Ms Ryan told the WRC that she only learned a month after taking up the new duties and increasing her working hours from 28 to 40 that her employer only intended to give her a 10% pay rise to just over €34,000.


The tribunal heard that Ms Ryan joined the Enterprise group when it bought out an Irish transport and haulage firm, Walkers, in an April 2020 takeover, just over two years before the assistant depot manager job came up in July 2022.

Ms Ryan’s position was that she was “always told it would be €39,000” and that if she had known the promotional pay rise would only amount to 10 per cent she “wouldn’t have gone for the job”.

The tribunal heard that two other assistant depot managers were earning €38,500.

“Since being eventually told six weeks into my new role that I would only get a 10 per cent increase which I could not realistically [accept] I felt very embarrassed and humiliated to have to return to my old role. I felt I was left with [no] option and nowhere to turn for help,” Ms Ryan wrote in an email to her employer on October 16th, 2022.

The company’s area manager, Anthony Ives, stated in his evidence that he “did say €39,000” to Ms Ryan and that it had been an error on his part to do so. He told the tribunal the figure of €39,000 was based on “target earnings” and that he had not explained to Ms Ryan how that was to be calculated.

The company’s position was that the “correct pay” for Ms Ryan in the promotional job was a €34,414.38, based on a 10 per cent increase on her previous €15-an-hour wages and a 40-hour working week. It also came with a private healthcare plan and a company car, it was submitted.

Denying the complaint, Orla Murphy BL, appearing for the company instructed by Lewis Silken Ireland, submitted that the comparator male assistant depot managers referenced by the complainant either had “more responsibility” or were in charge of “much larger” depots.

One of these depot managers got to the €38,500 figure after getting the same 10 per cent pay rise on promotion as Ms Ryan, the company argued. The other was already earning the figure when he joined the company in a transfer of undertakings, it was submitted.

A letter from the company’s solicitors to the complainant in December 2022, opened to the tribunal, stated: “While [Ms Ryan’s] role as ADM [assistant depot manager] is similar in title, the other ADMs to which she refers manage much larger fleet sizes. One is 50 per cent larger, and the other is three times the size.”

The solicitors maintained that this amounted to a “clear objective reason” for the difference in pay and that there had been “no difference in treatment”.

Adjudicator Caroline Reidy wrote in her decision: “It is the case that [Ms Ryan] was told this initial salary rate and this led her to realise that her comparators were on this salary and that she was to receive less if she took the promotion which, ultimately, she then refused,” Ms Reidy wrote.

She found that Ms Ryan and her two male comparators were doing “like work” and that the differences in pay between her and the men were “not justified on any grounds other than gender”.

Upholding the complaint, Ms Reidy ordered the company to pay Ms Ryan €10,000 in compensation “as a just and equitable redress for the treatment she has experienced through discrimination”.