Lynskey Ryan Insurance Limited, Galway
Equal Status Act, 2000 - Discrimination, Section 3(1)(a) - Age ground, Section 3(2)(f) - Disposal of goods and provision of services, Section 5 (1) - Agency/Vicarious liability, Section 42(2)
1.1 This dispute concerns a claim by Nicholas Burke that on 5 September 2003 he was treated in a discriminatory manner by the respondent, contrary to Section 5, in terms of Section 3(1) (a) and 3(2) (f) of the Equal Status Act 2000. 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 other relevant functions of the Director under Part III of the Equal Status Act.
2. Complainant's Case
2.1 This case relates to an allegedly discriminatory refusal by the respondent on 05/09/2003 to quote the complainant for motor insurance, specifically public service vehicle insurance, on the age ground.
3. Respondent's case
3.1 The respondent accepts the facts as stated by the complainant in relation to the alleged incident of discrimination but has argued that their refusal to quote the complainant for car insurance cannot be discriminatory as they were merely an agent passing on information to the complainant from a named underwriter.
4. Conclusions of the Equality Officer
4.1 In section 2 of the Equal Status Act 2000, dealing with interpretation, 'service'means a service or facility of any nature which is available to the public generally or a section of the public and this includes facilities for insurance. I am satisfied that the respondents were making insurance facilities available to the public at the time of the incident and as such were providing a service in terms of the Act.
It is not contested that the respondents told the complainant that they could not provide a quote for motor insurance. It is argued that it was not because of the complainant's age but because of the refusal of the underwriter to provide an insurance quote for the complainant. However, in refusing to quote the complainant the respondents were restricting the provision of a service, even if they did so as agent for an underwriting company.
4.2 Vicarious Liability
Section 42(2) states
"(2) Anything done by a person as agent for another person, with the authority (whether express or implied and whether precedent or subsequent) of that other person shall, in any proceedings brought under this Act, be treated for the purposes of this Act as done also by that other person."
4.3 It is not contested that the respondents were acting as an agent for a named underwriter in dealing with the complainant's inquiries for car insurance. The respondents are therefore liable in this matter on foot of their agency activities. The named underwriters were not named as a respondent in this matter by the complainant and have not been joined in this matter as co-respondents, I cannot therefore take their actions into consideration in this matter.
4.4 The underwriting policy document of the named underwriter indicates preferred risks. It also states that if a risk falls outside those preferred risks that the agent should forward a completed proposal form to them for consideration. The respondent did not request a completed proposal form from the complainant at any time.
5.1 Having carefully considered all of the facts of this matter I am satisfied that the respondent, in stating to the complainant that they would not provide a quote for motor insurance to him because of his age, discriminated against the complainant on the age ground, contrary to section 3 (1) (a) of the Equal Status Act 2000 in terms of Section 3(2)(f) and Section 5 of that Act.
6.1 Under section 25(4) of the Equal Status Act, 2000 redress shall be ordered where a finding is in favour of the complainant in accordance with section 27. Section 27(1) provides that:
"the types of redress for which a decision of the Director under section 25 may provide are either or both of the following as may be appropriate in the circumstances:
(a) an order for compensation for the effects of the discrimination;
(b) an order that a person or persons specified in the order take a course of action which is so specified."
6.2 Under Section 27 (1) (a) I hereby order that €2,000 be paid to Nicholas Burke, complainant, by the respondent for the effects of the discrimination.
Under Section 27(1)(b) I hereby order that the respondent arrange for comprehensive training of all members of staff, including the Directors of the respondent company, in the terms and application of the Equal Status Acts 2000-2004, such training to have commenced within three months from the date of this Decision.
17 October 2006