The final arguments have been heard in the case of an Orangeman who claims he faced discrimination in the Civil Service.
Bradley Martin’s tribunal against the Department of Social Development (DSD) began this week, with him alleging he was treated differently and harassed due to his Protestant beliefs.
The hearing heard a range of claims, and on Friday his lawyer told the tribunal that Mr Martin – a Staff Officer who had commanded around 125 employees – had been made the subject of “rumour and gossip”.
It had earlier been claimed Mr Martin frequently put in bids for weekend overtime for his team, but they were rejected, and he was “belittled” and made to “beg” for what he could get – while other staff were told to go and read books and to “stockpile work” for weekends.
Mark Mason, his lawyer, said others backed claims which Mr Martin made.
“This isn’t one man barking up the wrong tree,” he said. “This is four men reporting what actually happened.”
It was also claimed another staff member had spoken to him in the Morning Star pub while Mr Martin was stressed and off work, telling him word had spread he was off-duty due to sectarian comments about the Union Flag – a rumour which Mr Martin said he was “astonished” to hear. Such remarks from the staff member in question were denied.
Another matter raised at the tribunal was the circulation of an article about a GAA charity match at Casement Park, something Mr Martin objected to being in the workplace.
His lawyer Mr Mason said the existence of rumours about him in work had been demonstrated. Likewise, he said a “big disparity in relation to overtime being granted” had been proved – and the burden now passed to the DSD to explain it.
Michael Potter, DSD counsel, acknowledged Mr Martin was a good employee, but disputed this. He said: “This is a case of perception by him of discrimination which is not borne out by reality, the facts, or the evidence.”
When it came to the idea of a go-slow by some staff in the DSD, he said evidence for that had “become very watery and disappeared” once it was subjected to scrutiny.
“We find these allegations very surprising,” he said. “To put it euphemistically.”
Mr Martin has since transferred elsewhere in the service.
The tribunal will make its ruling in due course.