Equal Status Act 2000
Martin O'Brien, James O'Brien, Patrick O'Brien & Timmy O'Brien (represented by Lees Solicitors, Listowel)
Johnny Bob's's Pub, Abbeyfeale
(represented by Pierse & Fitzgibbon, Solicitors, Listowel)
Equal Status Act 2000 - Direct discrimination, section 3(1)(a) - Membership of the Traveller community, section 3(2)(i) - Supply of goods and services, section 5(1) - Refusal of access to a Pub - Establishment of a prima facie case - Non attendance at Hearing by complainants
Delegation under the Equal Status Act, 2000
This complaint was referred 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 has delegated the complaint to myself, Brian O'Byrne, 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.
This dispute concerns a complaint by Martin O'Brien, James O'Brien, Patrick O'Brien & Timmy O'Brien that they were refused entry to Johnny Bob's's Pub on 9 February 2002 because of their membership of the Traveller community.
The Hearing of this complaint was scheduled for 20 April 2006 and both parties' representatives were notified by registered post of the Hearing. Confirmation was obtained from An Post that both notifications had been delivered.
At 10.00 am on 20 April 2006, the respondent arrived for the Hearing with her represenative. As there was no sign of the complainants, the commencement of the Hearing was delayed for 45 minutes in case they had been detained on route.
When the complainants had not appeared by 10.45 am, I convened the Hearing explaining that, in cases under the Equal Status Act, the onus was on the complainants to provide evidence establishing a prima facie case and that it was essential, in the interests of natural justice and fair procedures, that such evidence is provided in the presence of the respondents to afford them the opportunity to challenge any allegations made against them.
I also stated that, in the absence of the complainants to give evidence and allow the respondents to cross-examine them, it would be my opinion that no prima facie case had been established and that a decision to this effect should issue.
At 11.00 am, I closed the Hearing stating that I proposed to issue a decision on the lines of the above.
In complaints such as this, the onus is on the complainants to establish a prima facie case by appearing at the Hearing to give evidence. As the complainants in this case did not attend on 20 April 2006, and I am satisfied that they were formally notified of the Hearing date, I find that a prima facie case has not been established on the Traveller community ground in terms of sections 3(1) and 3(2)(i) of the Equal Status Act 2000.
Accordingly, I find in favour of the respondents in the matter.
16 June 2006