Eddie & Ellen McDonagh, Kathleen & Edward Stokes V Jury's Doyle Hotel Group PLC, Dublin (Represented by Mr. Frank Beatty, B.L., acting on instructions from Vincent & Beatty, Solicitors)
File Nos. ES/2002/0914-0915 & 0923-0924
Date of Issue 17/11/2005
Equal Status Act 2000
Eddie & Ellen McDonagh, Kathleen & Edward Stokes V Jury's Doyle Hotel Group PLC
Equal Status Act, 2000 - Direct discrimination, Section 3(1)(a) - Traveller Ground, Section 3(2)(i) - Disposal of goods and supply of services, Section 5(1) - Prima facie case.
1.1 This dispute concerns claims by Eddie & Ellen McDonagh, Kathleen & Edward Stokes that on 21 August 2002, they were treated in a discriminatory manner by a member of the respondent's staff. The complainants each 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 cases to me, Dolores Kavanagh, an Equality Officer, for investigation, hearing and decision and for the exercise of this and other relevant functions of the Director under Part III of the Equal Status Act. The Hearing of these complaints was held on Thursday, 17 November 2005.
2. Summary of Complainants' Case
2.1 The complainants state in their written complaints that they were treated in a discriminatory manner by a member of the respondent's staff on the evening of 21 August 2002 when they attended at the respondent premises. Eddie McDonagh, complainant, was approached and asked to leave as he was recognised by a member of staff as having previously been involved in an incident on the premises. Kathleen Stokes was also informed that she was recognised by a member of staff as having previously been involved in an incident on the premises. The other complainants were asked to leave the premises as a consequence. In the absence of any further explanation the complainants feel that they were asked to leave the respondent premises because of their membership of the Traveller community.
3. Summary of Respondent's Case
3.1 The respondent denies that discrimination occurred and states that the complainants were asked to leave because Eddie McDonagh was recognised as having previously been involved in an incident on the premises. He alone was approached and asked to leave but because of his aggressive attitude to the request was actually allowed, in the best interests of safety, to remain in the premises until closing time.
4. Prima Facie Case
4.1 I must first consider whether the existence of a prima facie case has been established by the complainants. Section 38A(1) of the Equal Status Act 2000 (as amended by the Equality Act 2004) states that
"Where in any proceedings facts are established by or on behalf of a person from which it may be presumed that prohibited conduct has occurred in relation to him or her it is for the respondent to prove the contrary".
Section 38A(2) states that
"This section is without prejudice to any other enactment or rule of law in relation to the burden of proof in any proceedings which may be more favourable to the person".
5. Prima Facie Case - Complainants
5.1 The complainants did not attend at the scheduled Hearing of their complaints and could not therefore establish a prima facie case of discrimination on the Traveller community ground.
6.1 I find that the complainants were not discriminated against on the Traveller community ground contrary to Section 3(1) and 3(2)(i) of the Equal Status Act and in terms of Section 5(1) of that Act.
17 November, 2005