Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2008
EQUALITY OFFICER’S DECISIONS NO: DEC-S2008-083
(Represented by Mr. Buttenshaw BL instructed by Mr. Woods, Orpen Franks Solicitors)
File No. ES/2005/131
Date of Issue: 3 November 2008
Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2004 – Discrimination, section 3(1) – Gender ground, section 3(2)(a) – Disability ground, section 3(2)(g) – Reasonable accommodation - Provision of accommodation, section 6(1)(c)
1. Delegation under the Equal Status Act 2000 to 2004
1.1. A complainant referred a claim on 31 May 2005 to the Director of the Equality Tribunal under the Equal Status Act 2000. In accordance with her powers under section 75 of the Employment Equality Act, 1998, the Director then delegated the case to me, Tara Coogan, 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 The investigation under section 25 into this matter began on 13 March 2008. A hearing was held 23 July 2008. Final materials were submitted by the respondent on 31 July 2008.
Ms. Mary Dalton (“the complainant”) maintains that she was discriminated against, harassed and victimised on the grounds of gender and disability by her then landlord, Mr. John Glynn (“the respondent”) who also failed to provide her with reasonable accommodation. The respondent was notified on 31 March 2005.
3. Case for the complainant
3.1. In relation to her complaint of discrimination the complainant maintains that the respondent treated her less favourably on the gender ground because he gave the key to the back garden to a male tenant
3.2. In relation to alleged on-going harassment, the complainant submits that the respondent refused to reply to complaints of harassment, that he talks about the complainant with other tenants and incites other tenants against the complainant. She also referred to the fact that the respondent stated that he would record her phone calls.
3.3. In relation to her complaint of the respondent’s failure or refusal to provide the complainant with reasonable accommodation in accordance with section 4, the complainant asserts that the respondent denied her the use of washing machine and dryer, refused to install an intercom system and a refusal to repair a water heater under what she describes as ‘ethical reasonable conditions’.
3.4. She also maintains that the respondent also refused to retrieve a stolen plant. This plant had allegedly been taken by another tenant.
Case for the respondent
4.1. The respondent refutes any allegation of discrimination, harassment, failure to provide reasonable accommodation and victimisation.
4.2. The key was given to the male tenant whose flat opens up to that area of the garden.
Conclusion of the Equality Officer
5.1. Section 38A (1) of the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2004 sets out the burden of proof which applies to claims of discrimination. It requires the complainant to establish, in the first instance, facts upon which he can rely in asserting that the he suffered discriminatory treatment. It is only where such a prima facie case has been established that the onus shifts to the respondent to rebut the inference of discrimination raised.
5.2. I have not been presented with any evidence to suggest that any of the above incidents had anything to do with the complainant’s gender and/or disability.
5.3. The complainant stated in direct evidence that no tenant, male or female, had an intercom installed by the respondent. When questioned she indicated that there was no health related reason why she would need an intercom. She did instead suggest that as a woman, an intercom can provide some security. While this may be the case, the Equal Status Acts do not require positive action on the gender ground.
5.4. The Equal Status Act does not provide for a person availing of a service or accommodation to dictate the terms under which the service-user wants them to be delivered. The complainant’s insistence that the respondent carry out repairs to her water heater in accordance with her principles of ‘proper behaviour’ and the respondent’s refusal to give such an undertaking does not constitute discrimination or harassment by the respondent.
5.5. Allegations of theft or the respondent’s refusal to get involved in such matters are not matters for this Tribunal.
In accordance with section 25(4) I conclude my investigation and issue the following decision:
The complainant has failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination and/or harassment on the gender and/or disability grounds. She has also failed to establish a prima facie case of failure to provide reasonable accommodation and victimisation. Therefore, her complaint fails.
3 November 2008