Mr. John Kealy V Mr. Enzo Rocca, t/a Enzo's Café (Limerick) (Represented by Richard R. O'Hanrahan Solicitors)
Delegation under Equal Status Acts, 2000-2004
The complainant referred a claim to the Director of Equality Investigations on 19th February, 2003 under the Equal Status Acts, 2000 - 2004. In accordance with her powers under section 75 of the Employment Equality Act, 1998 and 2004 and under the Equal Status Act, 2000, on the 2nd September 2005 the Director delegated the case to me, Marian Duffy, 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 took place in Limerick on 7th November 2005.
1.1 The dispute concerns a claim by Mr. John Kealy that he was discriminated against by Enzo's Cafe on the ground that he is a member of the Traveller Community in that he was refused a service which is generally available to the public. The complainant alleged that the respondent discriminated against him in terms of Sections 3(1)(a), and 3(2)(i) of the Equal Status Act, 2000 contrary to Section 5(1) of that Act.
2 Summary of the Case
2.1 The complainant's case is that he entered the respondent's restaurant between 3pm and 3:30 pm on 24th December 2002 with his 3 children to have a meal and he was refused service. He submitted in his complaint form that he was about to order the food when Mr. Rocca told him that they were only serving regulars and that they were only taking bookings. At the hearing the complainant said that he was refused service because Mr. Rocco said that he did not serve Travellers.
2.2 The respondent's case is that the complainant came to the restaurant at about 4:10pm on Christmas Eve. The restaurant was closed since 4pm to allow the staff to go home early for Christmas. There were still customers in the restaurant finishing their meals. Mr. Rocco told Mr. Kealy that the restaurant was closed but the takeaway was still open and Mr. Keady was directed there. He said that Mr. Kealy became abusive and he could smell drink off him. Mr. Rocco said that he regularly serves Travellers and he believes that a brother of Mr. Keady is a regular customer of the restaurant.
3 Conclusions of the Equality Officer
3.1 I found the evidence of Mr. Kealy to be inconsistent and less than convincing. I am satisfied that the restaurant was closed when the complainant sought entry and this was the reason for the refusal of service. It would not be unusual, in my view, for workplaces to close early on Christmas Eve to allow staff to get home for Christmas. I find therefore that the complainant has failed to establish a prima facie case of discriminatory treatment
4.1 On the basis of the foregoing I find that the complainant was not discriminated against by the respondent on the Traveller community ground contrary to Section 3(1) and 3(2)(i) of the Equal Status Act, 2000 and in terms of Section 5(1) of that Act.
30th November, 2005