A Public House
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) - Prima facie case.
1.1 This dispute concerns a claim by the complainant that on 8 June 2002, he was treated in a discriminatory manner by the respondent. 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 this and other relevant functions of the Director under Part III of the Equal Status Act. The Hearing of this complaint took place on 30 June 2006.
2. Summary of Complainant' Case
2.1 The complainant states that he was treated in a discriminatory manner on 8 June 2002 when he attended at the respondent premises and was refused service. The complainant states that he was told that he had been involved in a serious incident the previous year on the premises. The complainant states that he was not involved in any such incident on the premises and feels that he was refused service because he is a member of the Traveller community.
3. Summary of Respondent's Case
3.1 The respondent denies that discrimination occurred and states that the complainant was refused service on 8 June 2002 because he had been involved in a very serious incident locally, not on the respondent premises, some years previously. Evidence of the incident and the complainant's part therein was provided.
3.2 The respondent states that service was refused to the complainant because the bar staff feared him.
4 Prima Facie Case
4.1. I must first consider whether the existence of a prima facie case has been established by the complainant. Section 38A(1) of the Equal Status Act 2000 (as amended by the Equality Act 2004) states that
"Where in any proceedings facts are established by or on behalf of a person from which it may be presumed that prohibited conduct has occurred in relation to him or her it is for the respondent to prove the contrary".
Section 38A(2) states that
"This section is without prejudice to any other enactment or rule of law in relation to the burden of proof in any proceedings which may be more favourable to the person".
5. Prima Facie Case - Complainant
5.1 The complainant is a member of the Traveller community and this is not disputed by the respondent. It is common case that the complainant was refused service in the respondent premises on 8 June 2002.
5.2 I regard the following as the relevant in determining whether the complainant has established facts from which it may be presumed that prohibited conduct, specifically discrimination on the Traveller ground, has occurred in relation to him.
- Both parties gave evidence that Travellers have been served in the respondent premises.
- The respondent gave evidence of an incident arising some years earlier in the course of which the complainant had behaved in a violent manner such that the respondent staff feared him and did not wish to serve him.
- The complainant accepts that he was involved in such an incident but feels that, in circumstances whereby the incident had occurred a number of years previously, and he had not been involved in any incident since then, he should not be refused service on the basis of such earlier events.
5.3 In light of the above and having carefully considered all of the evidence presented in this matter I am satisfied that the complainant was refused service in the respondent premises on 8 June 2002 because he was associated by the respondent's staff with the earlier incident in the area. The refusal to serve the complainant in the respondent premises was a direct result of his being associated by the respondent's staff with the previous incident of unacceptable behaviour. The complainant was not refused because he is Traveller or because he was being associated with Travellers but because he was associated with the earlier violent behaviour. I am satisfied that non-Travellers would be refused service in the same or similar circumstances by the respondent.
6.1 I find that the complainant have failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination on the Traveller ground.
14 July, 2006