Equal Status Acts 2000-2004
Equality Officer Decision DEC-S2006-051
Mr. William Maughan
Power City (Dublin)
Equal Status Act, 2000 - Direct discrimination, section 3(1) - Traveller community,
Section 3(2)(i) - supply of goods, Section 5(1) - purchase of goods, request to produce a receipt, less favourable treatment, prima facie case.
Delegation under Equal Status Acts, 2000-2004
The complainant referred a claim to the Director of Equality Investigations on 11th March, 2003 under the Equal Status Acts, 2000. In accordance with her powers under section 75 of the Employment Equality Act, 1998 and under the Equal Status Acts, 2000 the Director 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. The hearing took place in Dublin on 18th May 2006.
1.1 The dispute concerns a claim by Mr. William Maughan that he was discriminated against by Power City on the Traveller Community ground in that he was asked to produce a receipt for a purchase he had made in the shop. The complainant alleges that the respondent discriminated against him in terms of Sections 3(1)(a), 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 The complainant's case is that they entered the respondent's shop on 7th November 2003 and purchased a video recorder. He went through the checkout and paid for the purchase. He then returned to the shop to look at another item which he was considering purchasing but he decided not to purchase. He was on his way out of the shop when he was stopped by a member of staff (Mr. John Brennan) and asked to return to the shop. The complainant said that Mr. Brennan checked the receipt for the video recorder and his purchase was in order. The complainant said that there were a lot of people in the shop because they believed that the "fugitive" from a quiz show on 98FM was present in the shop. He said that he was embarrassed because he was questioned in the middle of the shop floor and he could see people looking at him. The complainant believes that the only reason he was asked for the receipt was because he is a member of the Traveller community.
The respondent's case is that the complainant was asked to produce his receipt after being observed walking around the shop with the video recorder. Mr. John Brennan said that he saw the complainant in the shop and he had a video recorder and then he saw him heading towards the exit and he stopped him and asked for the receipt. The complainant produced a receipt from his pocket which was a bit crumpled and Mr. Brennan decided to check it on the computer and he was satisfied that that the receipt was in order. Mr. Brennan agreed that the shop was very crowded because of the clues given out on 98FM concerning the location of the "fugitive" which directed people towards the shop. Mr. Brennan said that the complainant was very upset about the incident but any other customer could have been asked to produce a receipt if a member of staff was not sure that the item was paid for. He denied that he picked on the complainant because he was a Traveller.
3. Conclusions of the Equality Officer
3.1 I will now examine the evidence to see if the complainant has established a prima facie case of discriminatory treatment. In order to establish a prima facie case of discrimination the complainant must establish that he is covered by one of the discriminatory grounds, that he was subjected to specific treatment and that he was treated less favourably than a non-Traveller would have been in similar circumstances. I am satisfied that the complainant is a member of the Travellers community and it was agreed that he was subjected to specific treatment. The next question for consideration is whether the complainant was treated less favourably than non-Travellers would have been treated in a similar situation. I note from Mr. Brennan's evidence that it is rare for a customer to re-enter the shop after having made a purchase and that if it does happen the customer would normally keep the receipt in their hand and show it to a staff member. In this case the complainant had the receipt in his pocket and Mr. Brennan did not see him pay for the video as it was agreed the shop was crowded. I am satisfied in the circumstances that Mr. Brennan was entitled to ask for the receipt and that a non-Traveller customer would have been asked to produce a receipt in similar circumstances. I find therefore that the complainant has failed to establish a prima facie case of discriminatory treatment.
4.1 On the basis of the foregoing I find that the complainant was not discriminated against by the respondent on the Traveller community in terms of Section 3(1) and 3(2)(i) of the Equal Status Act, 2000 and contrary to Section 5(1) of that Act.
16th June, 2006