DEC - S2006 - 001
Mr. Seamus Maughan
Mr. P. Moran Trading as the Bourbon Bar
(Represented by Duggan & Barry Solicitors)
Mr. Maughan 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 case 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 Complainant's case
The complainant entered the Bourbon Bar around 9:30pm on 27th January 2002. He was accompanied by his cousin visiting from the UK. They had been in another pub prior to entering and had about four pints. As they entered the respondent began shaking his head, came out from behind the bar and said he was not serving them. The complainant and his companion questioned the refusal and were told to get out. Mr. Maughan stated that he had not been in the pub before except on New Years Day 2002 when he was refused by a member of staff after being served one pint. He knows the respondent as they had attended the same school and feels that the respondent would therefore be aware of his background. Mr. Maughan feels that the refusal was based on his membership of the Traveller community. An incident allegedly occurred after the refusal and action may be taken in regard to that in another forum.
Summary of the Respondent's Case
Mr. Moran was not aware of the refusal which is said to have occurred on New Year's Day. On the 27th January he was standing outside the bar when the complainant and his companion entered. Two members of staff were present, one on duty behind the bar. He saw the complainant come in and walk towards the bar. It is a distance of over 20 feet and there was adequate time to assess the complainant's demeanor. He decided they were staggering slightly and nodded at the barman not to serve them. Mr. Maughan said "You have to serve us" while his companion said "You have to serve us, its discrimination if you don't". When they spoke Mr. Moran felt that their speech was slurred. He stated that the alleged incident after the refusal did not take place. His reason for the refusal was their level of intoxication, and his assessment of this was based on 30 years involvement in the trade.
Conclusions of the Equality Officer
It was agreed at the hearing that the only issue in dispute is the reason for the refusal. The respondent stated that he refused the complainant because he was intoxicated, while the complainant stated that he was not intoxicated and that the only reason for the refusal was his membership of the Traveller community. It would appear therefore that the matter turns on whether or not a person who has consumed four pints might be considered intoxicated or not and clearly the parties to this complaint are diametrically opposed on the issue.
It is well known that alcohol affects people in different ways and there is no way of assessing the impact on Mr. Maughan on that day of the alcohol he had consumed. However, I cannot discount the possibility that an effect was apparent and that Mr. Moran perceived it as he asserts. On the balance of probabilities I find that Mr. Moran assessed the complainant as intoxicated and refused him on that basis.
On the basis of the evidence presented to me I am satisfied that Mr. Moran would refuse a non-Traveller in similar circumstances, that is where the non-Traveller has been assessed as intoxicated. I find therefore that the complainant was not treated less favourably than a non-Traveller would have been in similar circumstances and that he has failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination on the Traveller ground.
I find that the complainant has failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination on the Traveller ground and therefore this decision is in favour of the respondent.
23rd January 2006