Nancy McDonagh, Maggie McDonagh, Margaret Green & Winnie Burke
(Represented by Peter O'Connor & Son Solicitors)
Shaskill Developments T/A The Fountain Bar
Maggie McDonagh, Nancy McDonagh, Margaret Green and Winnie Burke 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.
The respondent premises had been auctioned in 2003 and prior to the hearing the complainants' representative was asked to provide contact details for the respondent. The names and addresses of the directors of Shaskill Investments Ltd. were provided on 8/8/2006 and I wrote to them informing them of the hearing on 11th August. The hearing took place on 13th September 2006. Nobody appeared for the respondent. The complainant's representative confirmed that the address had been confirmed using the electoral register held by Waterford Circuit Court Office sent to them by Waterford City Council in February 2006. Three of the complainants failed to appear and their representative verified that they did not intend to pursue their cases further.
Summary of the Complainant's case
Ms. McDonagh was in the Fountain Bar with three others on 3rd May 2003. Two of the group were not drinking alcohol. They had two rounds when another large group entered and joined them at their table. The complainant felt they had been drinking elsewhere before they entered. Shortly after their arrival the other group began singing and were asked to stop. When they did not stop they, together with the complainants group, were again asked to stop. Although the complainant's group said they had not been singing they were still required to leave. They left before the larger group and spoke to the doorman as they passed. He responded that they were just a bad as the rest of them. As a result of this incident the complainant is barred. The complainant's representative submitted an Equality Officer's Decision, DEC-2006-003 in support of their claim.
Conclusions of the Equality Officer
I am satisfied that the complainant is a member of the Traveller community and that a refusal of service took place in the respondent premises on 3rd May 2003. I accept that it may be normal practice to ask all members of a group to leave where some of its members are causing a disturbance and that that does not amount to discrimination in this case. However, the doorman's response to the complainant's group, and the fact that the complainant was barred subsequently, does raise an inference of discrimination. In the absence of an objective reason from the respondent for these acts I find that the complainant has established a prima facie case of discrimination on the Traveller ground. As the respondent failed to appear at the hearing, or indeed to enter into correspondence with this Office, I find that the respondent has failed to rebut the prima facie case of discrimination.
I find that the complainant was discriminated against on the Traveller ground when refused service on 3rd May 2006 in the Fountain Bar. I order the respondent to pay Nancy McDonagh €500 for the effects of the discrimination.
11th December 2006