Ms. Mary O’Reilly(Represented by John M. Spencer, Solicitor) V Cedarway Limited t/a Nenagh Abbey Court Hotel(Represented by Patrick F. Treacy & Co., Solicitors)
Delegation under Equal Status Acts, 2000-2004
The complainant referred a claim to the Director of Equality Investigations on 30th December, 2002 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 Acts, 2000 - 2004, the Director then 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 Acts, 2000 - 2004. The hearing took place on 23 June 2005.
1.1 The dispute concerns a claim by Mary O’Reilly that she was discriminated against by Nenagh Abbey Court Hotel on the ground that she is a member of the Traveller Community in that she was refused a service which is generally available to the public. The complainant alleged that the respondent discriminated against her 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 she was refused service in the public bar of the respondent’s hotel on 16th August 2002, which happened after she had received a written apology from the general manager of hotel in June 2002, following a similar refusal of service on the 14th of April 2002. Following the apology the complainant booked a room for her sisters to get dressed prior to her wedding. She submitted that she had some difficulty in making the booking and in support of this contention stated that the booking was only confirmed the day before the wedding.
The respondent denied that there was any discriminatory treatment and submitted that there was a substantial risk of disorderly conduct on the part of the complainant. It was also submitted that the respondent was relying on the provisions of section 15(1) of the Equal Status Act. In support of the case the respondent submitted that the complainant unsuccessfully objected to the renewal of the license of the hotel.
3 Conclusions of the Equality Officer
3.1 I find that the complainant has established a prima facie case of discriminatory treatment in that she was refused service in the hotel bar. The respondent relied on section 15(1) of the Act. I find that no direct evidence was given by the respondent to support the contention that there was “a substantial risk of criminal or disorderly conduct or behaviour” if the complainant was served. The manager of the hotel who made the decision did not attend the hearing despite a request under section 34(1)(a) of the Act.
4.1 On the basis of the foregoing I find that the complainant was 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. I order Cedarway Limited trading as Nenagh Abbey Court Hotel to pay the complainant the sum of €1,500 for the effects of the discrimination. The level of the award reflects the fact that the complainant had already experienced similar treatment which she believed had been resolved between the parties on the basis of an apology.
19th October, 2005