Equal Status Acts 2000 - 2008
Mary O’Brien, Martin O’Brien, Ann Moorehouse & William Moorehouse
(represented by Felton McKnight Solicitors )
The Coach House, Ballinteer
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 service in a Pub - Establishment of a prima facie case - Non attendance at Hearing by complainants
1 Delegation under the Equal Status Acts, 2000 - 2008
This complaint was referred to the Director of Equality Investigations under the Equal Status Act 2000. On 11 April 2008, in accordance with her powers under section 75 of the Employment Equality Act 1998 and under the Equal Status Acts, the Director 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 Acts, 2000 - 2008.
This dispute concerns a complaint by Mary O’Brien, Martin O’Brien, Ann Moorehouse & William Moorehouse that they were refused service in the Coach House Inn, Ballinteer on 11 November 2002 because of their membership of the Traveller community. Notification was sent to the respondents on 6 January 2003.
3 Summary of Hearing
The Hearing of this complaint was scheduled for 10.30am on Tuesday 4 November 2008 in the Equality Tribunal’s Office in Dublin and both parties were notified by registered post of the Hearing.
The day before the Hearing, the complainants’ solicitor phoned to say that she was having difficulty contacting her clients. She explained that her office had written to them at two separate addresses in relation to the Hearing but had not received a response. They had also tried to contact them by mobile phone but the number given was no longer in use. The solicitor said that, despite her best efforts, it now looked to her that the complainants may not be attending the Hearing. In response, I informed the solicitor that the Hearing would proceed as planned and, if the complainants were not in attendance, that the likelihood was that I would be finding in favour of the respondent.
On 4 November 2008, the respondent, Mr Michael Monaghan arrived for the Hearing at 10.30am as arranged. As there was no sign of the complainants, the commencement of the Hearing was delayed for 30 minutes in case they had been detained on route.
When the complainants had not appeared by 11 am, I convened the Hearing explaining that, in cases under the Equal Status Acts, 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, that it would be my opinion thatno prima facie case had been established and that a decision to this effect should issue.
At 11.10 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 4 November 2008, and I am satisfied that their representative was 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 Acts 2000 - 2008.
Accordingly, I find that the complaints have failed and I find in favour of the respondents in the matter.
8 December 2008