Bridget & Hugh Nevin V Tailteann Bar & Lounge, Navan (Represented by Bowman 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 - 182-183
Bridget and Hugh Nevin 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, the Director then delegated the cases 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
On 23/8/2003 Bridget and Hugh Nevin went to Navan with the intention of having lunch to celebrate a birthday. After a stroll around town they entered the Tailteann Pub. They had not been in there before. They intended to have a drink first and then have lunch. When Mr. Nevin ordered a drink he was refused. They left and called the Gardai. A Garda arrived and took details but did not enter the pub.
Summary of the Respondent's Case
On 8/2/2003 a row broke out in the pub which resulted in the hospitalisation of one person. About 40 people were involved and they were all settled members of the Traveller community. After the incident, those involved could not be identified and the staff told the licensee, Mr. Murphy, that they would leave if he continued to serve Travellers. Although the licensee told staff that this could cause difficulties for his license Travellers were subsequently refused. Mr. Murphy failed to renew his licence when its renewal was challenged because of these refusals. Mr. Murphy managed to secure the license subsequently and the staff involved have since left. The Nevins were refused during that period when all but two Travellers were being refused. On 23/2/2003, during the incident complained of, Mr. Murphy was not on duty, and when he asked his staff about the incident described on the Notification, they all denied involvement although he knows one of them must have refused the complainants. Mr. Murphy stated that the complainants are not barred. It was also stated that before the incident of 8/2/2003 Travellers were served.
Conclusions of the Equality Officer
It was agreed that both the complainants are members of the Traveller community, and while he was not present when the complainants allege they were refused Mr. Murphy accepts that the incident on 23/2/2003 may have taken place. I am satisfied that it did. After the incident of 8/2/2003 what was essentially a blanket ban on Travellers was enforced in the pub. All but two Travellers well known to the pub were refused. On the complaint forms lodged by or on behalf of the complainants it is clear that the reason they were given for their refusal was the incident on 8/2/2003. The member of staff made a direct link between the complainants and the incident involving Travellers and refused the complainants on that basis. I am satisfied that non-Travellers would not have been linked in this manner and were not refused on a wholesale basis. It is clear from the evidence presented that this is not now the situation in the Tailteann and that the staff responsible have moved on.
I am satisfied that the complainants were less favourably treated than non-Travellers when they attempted to get service on 23/2/2003 in the Tailteann. I find that the complainants were discriminated against when they were refused service on 23/2/2003.
I find that the Tailteann Pub discriminated against Bridget and Hugh Nevin when they refused them service on 23/8/2003. I hereby order the respondent to pay the complainants €300 each for the effects of the discrimination. In making this award I have taken account of the evidence presented to me in respect of the present policy in force in the Tailteann Pub and that there is not impediment preventing the complainants from returning to the pub.
29 November 2005