Elizabeth and Andrew Connors
P.J. Doyle t/a The Castle Nite Club
Equal Status Acts, 2000-2004 - Direct discrimination, Section 3(1)(a) - Traveller community ground, Section 3(2)(i) - Disposal of goods and supply of services, Section 5(1) - Refusal of service -Failure by complainants to attend hearing, Establishment of Prima facie case
Delegation under the Equal Status Act, 2000
These complaints were referred to the Director of Equality Investigations under the Equal Status Acts 2000-2004. In accordance with her powers under section 75 of the Employment Equality Act 1998 and under the Equal Status Act, 2000, the Director has delegated these complaints to me Mary O'Callaghan, 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, 2000-2004. The hearing of the case was on the 8th December 2006.
This dispute concerns claims by Ms. Elizabeth and Mr. Andrew Connors that they were discriminated on the grounds of their membership of the Traveller community when they were refused entry to The Castle Nite Club, Enniscorthy. The complainants have alleged that the treatment they received was contrary to Section 3 (2) (i) of the Equal Status Act 2000 and in not being provided with a service which is generally available to the public they were subjected to treatment contrary to Section 5 (1) of the Act.
2. Outline of events
Once the complaints had been lodged, all correspondence submitted to the Tribunal in connection with the complaints was passed between the parties. A hearing of the case was arranged for Friday 8th December at 10.30 a.m. at the Offices of the Equality Tribunal. Previous efforts to hold the hearing had been adjourned. Both parties were notified of the hearing, either directly or via their nominated representative by letter dated 7th November 2006 with a request to the parties to confirm their attendance. Confirmation of the attendance by respondent was received by the Tribunal in advance of the hearing. A letter sent by fax and post from the complainants representatives was received by the Tribunal on 6th December 2006 indicating that on receipt of the Tribunal's letter of 7th November they had written to their clients seeking further instructions in the matter but had not heard anything in return. The arrangements for the hearing remained unaltered as no application for an adjournment of the hearing was lodged by either party and sufficient reason to adjourn the matter due to exceptional circumstances had not been established.
On the date of the hearing the respondent party attended at the Tribunal for the hearing of the case. At the time scheduled for the commencement of the hearing none of the complainants were in attendance and they had not contacted the Tribunal either by phone or letter indicating the reason for their non-attendance. As Equality Officer hearing the case I took the decision to allow a short time of approximately 10 minutes to enable me to establish whether the complainants or their representative had informed the Equality Tribunal that they were delayed. There was no record of any further contact from the complainants. I am satisfied that the complainants had been notified of the hearing. This is borne out by the letter to the Tribunal from their representative on 6th December 2006.
At that point, I explained to the respondent that there had been no contact from the complainants and that in their absence they could not establish prima facie cases of discrimination. The onus is on a complainant to establish a prima facie case. The respondent therefore had no case to answer.
In this case Elizabeth and Andrew Connors did not appear at the hearing and having failed to appear did not establish prima facie cases of discrimination on the Traveller community ground. Their complaints (ES/2002/930- ES/2002/931) cannot succeed. Therefore, I find for the respondent, P J. Doyle t/a The Castle Nite Club (DEC-S2006- 093)
11th December 2006