The Equality Tribunal
3 Clonmel Street
Phone: 353 -1- 4774100
Fax: 353-1- 4774150
Equal Status Acts 2000-2004
Equality Officer Decision
Peter Quinn & Tina Quinn
(represented by Heather Rosen)
Ennis Town Council
(represented by Brian M. McMahon Solicitors)
Equality Officer Decision
Equal Status Acts, 2000 –2004 - Direct discrimination, Section 3(1) – Traveller community, Section 3(2)(i) - provision of accommodation or services or amenities, Section 6(1)(c) – named respondent, vicarious liability, Section 42(1) – failure to attend hearing – failure to establish discriminatory treatment – finding not in favour of complainant.
Delegation under Equal Status Acts, 2000-2004
The complainants referred claims to the Director of the Equality Tribunal under the Equal Status Acts, 2000 to 2004. On the 26th April 2007, 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 dates my investigation commenced. As required by Section 25(1) and as part of my investigation, I proceeded to hearing on the on 28th and 29th May 2007.
1.1 The dispute concerns a claim by the complainants that they were discriminated against on the Traveller community ground. The complainants alleges that the respondent discriminated against them in terms of Sections 3(1)(a), and 3(2)(i) of the Equal Status Acts, 2000 - 2004 contrary to Section 6(1)(c) of that Act. The complaints were lodged during 2006 and were dealt with as one case surrounding the service provided by the respondent arising from the complainant’s housing needs and related accommodation needs and linked issues.
2 Named Respondent
2.1 I am addressing two matters at the outset of this decision. The first concerns the named respondent and whether the complainant should proceed against named officials. The complainant referred the case against Mr. Alex Flemming County Manager and Mr. Tom Coughlan, officials of both Clare County Council and Ennis Town Council. The complainant also referred the complaint against Mr. Thomas Ryan, Mr. Simon Moroney, Ms Anne Griffin and Ms. Sheila Saunders who are all officials of Ennis Town Council and the Council itself. The legal representative of Ennis Town Council submitted that the complaint should proceed against Clare County Council only, given that the primary statutory responsibility for housing members of the Traveller community rested with Clare County Council.
I find, given the provisions of section 42 of the Equal Status Act 2000 concerning vicarious liability, that the named respondent should be Ennis Town Council and not the named officials. Therefore the complaint herein should proceed against this respondent only and not against the named individuals.
Statutory Time Limits
2.2 The second matter is, whether the complaint has been referred within the statutory time limits. Having regard to the provisions of sections 21(1) and 21(11) of the Act, I find that the notifications served under section 21(1) and the referrals of the complaints to the Tribunal comply with the statutory time limits set out in the Equal Status Acts, 2000-2004.
The full reasons for the decisions in relation to the above are set out in the case of John & Angela Mongans and children v Clare County Council (DEC-2008-039 copy attached). The decision in the case of Tina Quinn & Peter Quinn v Clare County Council (DEC-S2008-107) is also relevant.
3. Summary of the Case
3.1 This case is one of a number of complaints referred to the Equality Tribunal during the period 2004-2006, on behalf of a large number of complainants, against named officials of Clare County Council and the Council itself and this complaint was also
referred against named officials of Ennis Town Council and the Town Council itself, alleging discrimination in relation to accommodation needs and related matters. I decided in the interest of the efficient management of the cases to arrange an initial hearing (hereinafter called a callover/hearing/ as appropriate). This callover/hearing was arranged for 28th May 2007 and I accordingly notified the representatives of the date. The purpose of the callover/hearing was to continue the investigation and open the hearing and establish some further and additional information.
3.2 The complainants did not attend the hearing on the appointed date. Their representative, Ms Rosen, said that they were not present and no reason was provided. I opened the hearing again on the 29th of May 2007 and the complainants were not present.
4. Conclusion of Equality Officer
4.1 I concluded the investigation and the hearing and my finding under section 25(4) is not in favour of the complainant as no evidence of discrimination was presented in support of the allegation of discrimination at the hearing.
5.1 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’ (Tina Quinn and Peter Quinn ES/2005/0159 - 160, & ES/2005/0171-172),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.
14th January 2009