Mr. Michael McInerney & Ms. Louise O'Brien
(Represented by Mr. Leonard Parker B.L.
instructed by Connolly Sellors Geraghty, Solicitor)
Mr. Kevin Daly, Dunne's Pub (Roscrea)
Delegation under Equal Status Acts, 2000-2004
The complainants referred a claim to the Director of Equality Investigations (now the Equality Tribunal) on 10th April, 2002 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, on 29th August, 2005 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 case was heard in Roscrea on 11th January 2006
1.1 This dispute concerns a claim by Mr. Michael McInerney and Ms. Louise O'Brien that they were discriminated against by Dunne's Pub on the ground of membership of the Traveller community, in that they were refused a service which is generally available to the public. The complainants alleged that the respondent discriminated against them in terms of Sections 3(1)(a), 3(1)(b)(i)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 Mr. McInerney is a member of the Traveller community and Ms. O' Brien is not a Traveller and they are in a relationship for a number of years. Their case is that they were invited to a 21st Birthday party in the respondent's premises on 1st February 2002 and they were refused service. In evidence they both stated that the manager on duty told them that she had trouble with "your sort" over Christmas and this was the reason for refusing service. The complainants said that they took this to mean that Travellers would not be served. They said that they were in the company of a friend who is not a Traveller and in evidence they produced a statement from this person who stated that she had no problem being served on the night in question.
2.2 The respondent having been notified of the hearing did not attend, but in his written response to the notification of the complaints by the complainants he said that Mr. Mc Inerney did not order a drink and he was not therefore refused. In relation to Ms. O'Brien the respondent stated that she refused to produce any ID when requested and under Section 15(2) of the Equal Status Act 2000 he was entitled to refuse service. In response Mr. McInerney said at the hearing that Ms. O'Brien ordered the drink for him and Ms.O'Brien said that she had not been asked for an ID.
3 Matters Arising Subsequent to the Hearing
3.1 Ms. Marie Morgan Manager of Dunne's Pub telephoned the Tribunal the day after the hearing to say that she had mistaken the date of the scheduled hearing and she understood that it was scheduled for Friday 13th of January 2006. She said that Mr. Kevin Daly is the licensee and he has leased the premises from Mr. John Daly, his brother. She said that Mr. John Daly, who is an Accountant, had taken away the documentation concerning the case and she had only now discovered that the correct date of the hearing was 11th January 2006 after telephoning Mr. John Daly.
4 Conclusions of the Equality Officer
4.1 I note that since the reference of the complaints to the Equality Tribunal that the Tribunal has written to Mr. Kevin Daly on a number of occasions but has received no response. I also note that in the letter of notification of the hearing sent to Mr. Daly on the 2nd December 2005 that the Tribunal asked that a named official should be contacted to confirm his attendance at the hearing but no response was received. While I have no reason to doubt the explanation given by Ms. Morgan, the fact remains that the onus is on the respondent, having been validly notified of the date and venue of the hearing, to attend the hearing as notified.
4.2 Having heard the evidence of the complainants, I find that they established prima facie cases of discriminatory treatment. Once a prima facie case has been established by the complainants a valid rebuttal must be made by the respondent if the complaints are not to be upheld. As the respondent did not attend the hearing I find that he has failed to rebut the prima facie cases made out by the complainants.
5.1 On the basis of the foregoing I find that Mr. Michael McInerney was discriminated against by the respondent on the Traveller community ground in terms of Section 3(1)(a), and 3(2)(i) of the Equal Status Act, 2000 and contrary to Section 5(1) of that Act. I find that Ms. Louise O'Brien is associated with a member of the Traveller community and was discriminated against on the Traveller community ground by virtue of that association, in terms of Section 3(1)(b)(i) and contrary to section 5(1) of the Equal Status Act, 2000. I order Kevin Daly, Dunnes Pub to pay the complainants, Mr. Michael McInerney and Ms. Louise O'Donoghue, the sum of €500 each in redress for the effects of the discriminatory treatment.
27th Jauary, 2006