Award of €7,500 for woman told manual handling job ‘only for men’

WRC hears Jess Quinn applied for role moving boxes with SSL Ltd but was not called for interview

A woman who claimed a company she worked for told her that a position moving boxes was “only for men” has been awarded €7,500 after a ruling of gender discrimination.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has directed SSL Ltd, trading as Source & Supply Logistics Limited, to compensate Jess Quinn on foot of her complaint under the Employment Equality Act 1998.

Ms Quinn, a temporary employee at the firm whose contract was coming to an end in March of last year, decided to apply for the vacancy even after being told it was “only for men” because of the weight of the boxes, she told the WRC.

Ms Quinn started working for the company in December 2022 and was told on February 28th of last year that her contract would expire at the end of that week and would not be renewed. She and her colleagues were then told about a manual handling vacancy.


The job involved moving boxes weighing between 7kg and 15kg around a HSE building at Merlin Park University Hospital in Galway, the tribunal was told.

Ms Quinn’s said that during a meeting with two company representatives she was told the job was “only for men because of the weight of the boxes and that stairs that would have to be climbed with the boxes”.

She said she told the company representatives the restrictions were “sexist” and applied for the job anyway, but she was not called to interview. She said two men she had trained were hired instead.

She told the WRC that before she took the job with SSL, she drove a heavy goods vehicle and “was lifting much heavier items than the boxes”.

The sole company witness who gave evidence, Pearse O’Donohue, was not one of the representatives noted by the WRC as having met Ms Quinn. However, he denied that the open job was only available for men.

“A risk assessment was done. The outcome was that the work needed to be done by two people who were able bodied and stronger; not necessarily male, just stronger,” he said.

Although the use of lifting aids was considered for the work, he said it was “not possible” to bring them on to the HSE site. He accepted that there had been no assessment done to see whether Ms Quinn could lift the boxes without a risk of injury.

Mr O’Donohue added that Ms Quinn was asked to stay on another week so the firm could find her a new role but “she didn’t want to stay”.

In her decision, WRC adjudicator Niamh O’Carroll wrote: “The respondent stated that whether someone was a male or a female wasn’t the issue, it was the person’s capabilities in relation to lifting boxes.”

She wrote that Ms Quinn was “informed” by a company representative that “due to the nature of the role and in line with the [Health and Safety Authority] guidelines on lifting, that only males would be considered”.

“They did not ask the complainant if she was physically capable of lifting the boxes. They did not give her a trial run. They simply said that she would not be suitable,” she said.

Ms O’Carroll said she was “fully satisfied” the worker had raised the inference of discrimination on gender grounds and that the company “failed to establish that there was no infringement of the principle of equal treatment”. She ruled the complaint to be well-founded and awarded compensation of €7,500.