Maam Enterprises Limited t/a
Lil Doyle's Public House, Co. Wicklow
Equal Status Act, 2000 - Direct discrimination, section 3(1)(a) - Traveller ground, Section 3(2)(i) - Disposal of goods and supply of services, Section 5(1) - Refusal of entry to public house.
1.1 This dispute concerns a claim by Anne Moorehouse that she was discriminated against by the respondent, contrary to the Equal Status Act, 2000, on the grounds of membership of the Traveller community when she attempted to gain entry to the respondent premises on the evening of 20 April 2002.
The complainant 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 1998 and under the Equal Status Act 2000, the Director then delegated the case to me, Dolores Kavanagh, 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 Hearing of this complaint took place on Monday, 11 December 2006 in the Equality Tribunal.
2 Complainant's Case.
2.1 The complainant, in the company of her husband and two companions, attended at the respondent premises on the evening of 20 April 2002. The complainant had been a regular patron of the premises for some time and was on friendly/familiar terms with the owners of the premises.
2.2 The complainant and her companions were met at the door by two other patrons, both male, of the premises who barred their way and denied them entry. One of the two males in question subsequently realised that he knew the complainant's sons, with whom he had attended school, and apologised to her. He stated that the owner was providing him and the other male with free beer for preventing Travellers from entering the pub.
2.3 The complainant asked to speak with the owner who came to the door to speak with her. The owner stated that there had been a riot in the pub some weeks earlier involving Travellers and members of the settled community and that, while she was aware that the complainant and her companions were not present on the night in question and had never caused a problem on the premises, she did not want them on her premises.
2.4 The complainant and her companions were deeply hurt and embarrassed by the refusal of entry, particularly in circumstances whereby they were on a first name basis with the owners and had enjoyed attending at the premises previously. There was no indication that any non-travellers were being refused entry and the outcome of the "riot" in question, which the owner had stated involved Travellers and non-Travellers, had been that only Travellers, regardless as to whether they were involved in the incident, were to be barred from the premises. Several regular patrons were watching the refusal through the windows of the pub. The group left and attended at a different premises where they had no difficulty gaining entry or service and where they remained until closing time. None of the group has returned to the respondent premises since the night on which they were refused entry.
3. Respondent's Case
3.1 The respondent did not provide any written submissions to the Tribunal. The company is in voluntary liquidation and it was at all times open to the Liquidator and/or the respondent to attend at the Hearing and present evidence on behalf of the respondent. Neither the Liquidator nor the respondent attended at the scheduled Hearing of this complaint.
4 Conclusions of the Equality Officer.
4.1 No explanation was given at any time by, or on behalf of, the respondent for the manner in which Ms. Moorehouse, the complainant, was treated. Neither the respondent nor any person acting on their behalf attended at the scheduled Hearing of the complaint. On balance, taking account of the written and oral evidence of the complainant and the witness on her behalf, I am satisfied that the complainant has established a prima facie case of discrimination on the grounds of membership of the Traveller community, which the respondent has failed to rebut.
5.1 I find that the complainant was discriminated against on the grounds of membership of the Traveller community in terms of Section 3(1) and 3(2) (i) of the Equal Status Act and contrary to Section 5(1) of that Act. Under Section 27 (1) (a) of the Equal Status Act I hereby order that the respondent pay the sum of €4,000 to the complainant for the effects of the discrimination.
21 December, 2006