The Equality Tribunal
3 Clonmel Street
Phone: 353 -1- 4774100
Fax: 353-1- 4774150
Equal Status Acts 2000-2004
Equality Officer Decision
Nora Lyons, Hannah Ryan, Mary Kenny, Brendan Glynn,
Michael Sullivan & P.J. Bowles.
(represented by Mr. Liam Holmes)
(represented by Helen Boyle BL instructed by Stephen McDevitt Solicitor)
Equal Status Acts, 2000 –2004 - Discrimination, section 3(1) – Disability, Section 3(2)(g) – reasonable accommodation, Section 4(1) – complainants’ non-attendance at hearing – failure to establish discrimination.
Delegation under Equal Status Acts, 2000-2004
The complainants referred a claim to the Director of the Equality Tribunal under the Equal Status Acts, 2000 to 2004. On 30th January 2006, in accordance with her powers under section 75 of the Employment Equality Act, 1998 and under the Equal Status Acts, 2000-2004, 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, 2000-2004, on which date my investigation commenced. As required by Section 25(1) and as part of my investigation, I proceeded to hearing on the on 25th September 2006 and the final correspondence on the matter was 3rd August 2007.
1.1 The dispute concerns claims by the above named complainants that they were discriminated against by the respondent Cork County Council Libraries on the disability ground. The complainants allege that the respondent discriminated against them in terms of Sections 4(1), of the Equal Status Acts in that the respondent failed to provide reasonable accommodation for them so that they could use the library.
2. Summary of Case
2.1 The complainants’ representative was notified on 9th August 2006 that a hearing of the case was arranged for the 26th September 2006. Their representative responded by letter dated 15th August 2006 and stated that he had forwarded a copy of the hearing notification to the complainants. He also confirmed that he would be attending the hearing. One of the complainants Mr. Brendan Glynn also confirmed his attendance. I sat to hear the case on the 26th of August 2006 and neither the complainants nor their representative was in attendance. I made contact with Mr. Holmes the complainants’ representative and I was informed that he had made an error about the date. He said he would attend and I adjourned the hearing until he arrived.
2.2 I opened the hearing. Mr. Holmes said that all of the complainants had disabilities and that they would not be attending the hearing. He said that two of the complainants, Ms. Lyons and Ms. Ryan, were ill and could not attend. Mr. Bowles and Mr. O’Sullivan would not be attending because the hearing venue was not suitable to them as it was too far away. He said that he could not contact Ms Kenny or Mr. Glynn. Mr. Glynn had already confirmed his attendance.
2.3 Given that all the complainants have disabilities, I adjourned the hearing to allow the complainants to produce a written explanation for their non-attendance supported by medical evidence. I told the parties that I would rearrange the hearing following the production of this documentation. Neither the complainants nor their representative contacted the Tribunal. On 12 May 2007 I wrote to Mr. Holmes seeking the documentation and I stated that in the event of it not been provided I would be making a decision on the complaints. No satisfactory response has been provided by either the complainants or their representative. I again wrote to Mr. Holmes on 3rd August 2007, but I received no response.
3 Conclusions of the Equality Officer
3.1 I am satisfied that the complainants were on notice of the hearing arranged for the25th September 2006 and they did not attend. It should also be noted that Mr. Glynn confirmed his attendance but he did not turn on the day. They have not provided a satisfactory reason supported by medical evidence for their non-attendance. Therefore I have concluded the investigation and my finding under section 25(4) of the Equal Status Act is not in favour of the complainants.
4.1 In accordance with Section 25(4) of the Equal Status Acts, 2000 – 2004, I issue the following decision: as part of my investigation under Section 25 of the Act, I am obliged to hear all interested persons, I find that the complainants’ failure to attend such a hearing was unreasonable in the circumstances and that any obligation under Section 25(1) has ceased. As no evidence was presented in support of the allegation of discrimination at the hearing, I conclude the investigation and I find against the complainants.
30 December 2008