John Nevin V The Cellar Bar (Represented by Connellan Solicitors)
Complaint under the Equal Status Act 2000
Equal Status Act, 2000 - Direct Discrimination, Section 3(1)(a) - Membership of the Traveller Community, Section 3(2)(i) - Disposal of goods and supply of services, Section 5(1) - Refusal of service in a pub
DEC - S2005-169
John Nevin 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, the Director then delegated the case to me, Bernadette Treanor, 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.
Summary of the Complainants' case
The complainant stated in evidence that he began drinking in the Cellar Bar in September 2001. He stated that he went there because a number of his football teammates drank there and that he was there almost every week until the incident which too place on 31st of December 2002. On that night he went to the Cellar Bar at 7pm but was told by the bouncer that he was barred. Mr. Nevin knew the bouncer as he played football with him and, in addition, he was the regular bouncer at the bar. When he asked to speak to the barman or the owner he was told that they were busy. He called the Gardai but although he waited 10 minutes they did not arrive. He left and went to another bar for the evening.
Summary of the Respondent's Case
The respondent stated that as New Year's Eve s the busiest night of the year he has a practice of restricting access to three categories of people; his extended family, members of his staff's families and regular customers. Regular customers are defined as those who go to the pub at least once a week, who support the pub all year. Mr. Redmond, the respondent, recognised the complainant as a customer but did not know his name. He did not now his name. He stated that Mr. Nevin only attended the pub as a regular for about a month or a month and a half before the incident and would not have come within one of the groups which the bouncer was told could be given access. There was a large sign on the door attesting to the arrangements for the night although t was accepted at the hearing that this may have caused Mr. Nevin difficulties. These arrangements are in place each year. While the pub was not full at 7pm when the complainant arrived, it did fill up later and even regulars who arrived after that point were refused. Mr. Redmond was called to the door when the Garda arrived and he spoke to them briefly at the door. They asked what was going on and he told them about the arrangements for the night. He did not see them speak to Mr. Nevin who was still there. Mr. Redmond serves Travellers and has Traveller regulars, some of whom were present on the night in 2002. His fire certificate has a maximum number on it and even on a normal busy Saturday night many people are turned away when the doors are closed. He operates an open policy and although Mr. Nevin was refused on 31st December 2002 this had nothing to do with his membership of the Traveller community.
Conclusions of the Equality Officer
I am satisfied that the issue surrounding the arrival the Garda which is in dispute is irrelevant to the refusal. Had the Garda spoken to the complainant it is likely that they would have told him that it was a civil matter and not an issue they could resolve. In any event their arrival or otherwise was after the fact.
Based on the evidence presented to me am satisfied that the respondent had arrangements in place in relation to who should be given access on New Year's Eve. I find that although the complainant attended the pub on occasion before the incident he did not come within one of the defined groups to whom access would be granted. As many members of the settled community would not have come within those definitions either I find that the complainant was not less favourably treated because of his membership of the Traveller community.
I find that the respondent did not discriminate against the complainant when he was refused access to the Cellar Bar at 7pm on the 31st December 2002.
10 November 2005