Amanda and Anthony Mc Donagh (Represented by Tallaght Travellers CDP) -v- Barry's Hotel (Represented by Noel Smith and Partners Solicitors)
Delegation under the Equal Status Act, 2000
These complaints were referred to the Director of Equality Investigations under the Equal Status Acts 2000-2004. In accordance with her powers under section 75 of the Employment Equality Act 1998 and under the Equal Status Act, 2000, the Director has delegated these complaints to me Mary O'Callaghan, 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, 2000. The hearing of the case was on the 22nd October 2004.
This dispute concerns claims by Ms Amanda and Mr. Anthony Mc Donagh that they were discriminated on the grounds of their membership of the Traveller community when they were refused entry to Barry's Hotel on 16th September 2001. The complainants have alleged that the treatment they received was contrary to Section 3 (2) (i) of the Equal Status Act 2000 and in not being provided with a service which is generally available to the public they were subjected to treatment contrary to Section 5 (1) of the Act.
2. Outline of events
Once the complaints had been lodged, all correspondence submitted to the Tribunal in connection with the complaints was passed between the parties. A hearing of the case was arranged for Thursday 18th November 2004 at 10.30 am at the Offices of the Equality Tribunal. Both parties were notified of the hearing, either directly or via their nominated representative, by letter, issued on 14th September 2004. Confirmation of the attendance by all parties was received prior to the hearing, from the complainant's representative on 2nd November 2004 and from the respondent on 11th November 2004. No application for an adjournment of the hearing was lodged by either party. On the date of the hearing the respondent party together with her legal representatives attended at the Tribunal for the hearing of the case. At the time scheduled for the commencement of the hearing none of the complainants or their representative was in attendance and they had not contacted the Tribunal either by phone or letter indicating the reason for their non-attendance. As Equality Officer I took the decision to wait until 30 minutes after the time arranged for the hearing to commence to give the complainants every chance to arrive or to make contact with the Tribunal if an unexpected event had prevented their attendance or to explain why they had not appeared. The hearing then commenced at 11.00 am. All of those in attendance completed the attendance sheet which was circulated and at that time I enquired if the complainants were present. I am satisfied that they were not in attendance. I am also satisfied that the complainants had been notified of the hearing. This is borne out by confirmation that was provided to the Tribunal by their representative that they would
be in attendance. At that point, I explained that there had been no contact from the complainants and that in their absence they could not establish prima facie cases of discrimination. The onus is on a complainant to establish a prima facie case. The respondent therefore had no case to answer.
In these cases the complainants did not appear at the hearing and having failed to appear did not establish prima facie cases of discrimination on the Traveller community ground. Therefore, I find for the respondent, Barry's Hotel.
19th November 2004