Sonia Bower V Bus Éireann
Equal Status Act, 2000 - Direct discrimination, Section 3(1)(a) - Race Ground, Section
3(2)(h) - Disability Ground, Section 3(2)(g) - Disposal of goods and supply of services,
Section 5(1) - Prima Facie case.
1.1 This dispute concerns a claim by Sonia Bower that on 8 August 2002, she was treated
in a discriminatory manner by a member of the respondent's staff. The complainant referred a claim to the Director of Equality Investigations under the Equal Status Act 2000. In accordance with her powers under section 75 of the Employment Equality Act 1998 and under the Equal Status Act 2000, the Director then delegated the case to me, Dolores Kavanagh, an Equality Officer, for investigation, hearing and decision and for the exercise of other relevant functions of the Director under Part III of the Equal Status Act.
2. Summary of Complainants' Case
2.1 The complainant, who is Anglo Jamaican and disabled, stated in her written complaint
that she was treated in a discriminatory manner by a member of the respondent's staff on 8
August 2002 when she was travelling on a scheduled bus route from Schull to Cork and
requested to be set down at a particular stop. The driver informed her that he would not b going to the requested stop as he was running late. When the bus arrived in Skibbereen some passengers alighted while the bus was in traffic in order to catch another bus. When the complainant attempted to alight also the driver state that the other passengers were fare paying passengers and she would have to wait until the bus reached the stop. The complainant states that this remark referred to her disability bus pass and therefore was a discriminatory remark regarding her disability.
3. Summary of Respondent's Case
3.1 The respondent states that the bus driver was attempting to assist a number of
passengers (tourists) catch a connecting bus in Skibbereen which would take them on to their final destination. As he was running late he bypassed the stop referred to by the complainant. On reaching Skibbereen he asked one of the passengers who were attempting to catch the connecting bus to alight in traffic and run to the connecting bus to ask the driver to wait for the remaining passengers. The complainant was not allowed to alight in traffic in Skibbereen because the traffic had started to move again and the driver had to move the bus. The respondent has written to the complainant apologising for any inconvenience caused to her by virtue of the bus failing to stop at the requested stop and had reimbursed her for taxi fares incurred as a result. However, the respondent states that the bus driver's actions in missing the stop were not discriminatory.
4 Outcome of Hearing - Prima Facie Case
4.1. The complainant did not attend at the scheduled Hearing of her complaint on 16 July
2004. As the complainant was not present at the Hearing she failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination
The complainant has not established a prima facie case of discrimination on any of the
grounds covered by the Equal Status Act 2000. I find therefore that the complainant was not discriminated against on any of the grounds covered in the Act contrary to Section 3(1)(a), and 3(2) of the Equal Status Act 2000 and in terms of Section 5(1) of that Act.
22 July, 2004