The Equality Tribunal
3 Clonmel Street
Phone: 353 -1- 4774100
Fax: 353-1- 4774141
Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2008
DECISION NUMBER: DEC-S2009-044
File No. ES/2007/0053
Date of Issue: 9 July 2009
Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2004 – Disability ground, section 3(2)(g) – Discrimination on ground of disability, section 4(1)
1. Delegation under the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2004
1.1. Ms. Aine Wellard referred a claim on 22 May 2007 to the Director of the Equality Tribunal under the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2004. 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 on 17 October 2008. A hearing, in accordance with section 25 was scheduled for 24 June 2009.
2.1. Ms. Aine Wellard (“the complainant”) claims that she was discriminated contrary to section 5(1) by Dublin City Council (“the respondent”) on the grounds of her disability contrary to section 4(1) of the Equal Status Acts on 21 April 2007, 19 April 2007 and on other occasions between 12 March 2007 and 21 April 2007. The complainant maintains that the fact that the audible traffic lights located near her home were not making an audible signal constitutes failure by the respondent to provide her with reasonable accommodation in accordance with Section 4(1). The complainant further submitted that respondent did not reply to her query about the matter within a week (7 days) as requested by her. The respondent was notified on 21 April 2007.
3. The hearing
3.1. 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 complainants to establish, in the first instance, facts upon which she can rely in asserting that 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.
3.2. A hearing, in accordance with section 25 of the Acts, was scheduled for 24 June 2009. I am satisfied that the complainant was provided with ample notice in relation to the investigation and the proceedings via mail and email (as per her own specific request). This Tribunal also translated the respondent’s submission into Braille and forwarded it to the complainant prior to the hearing. This submission was accompanied with a letter written in Braille reminding her of the date and time. The respondent was in attendance on the day.
4.1. In accordance with Section 25(4) of the Equal Status Acts, 2000 to 2004, I issue the following decision. As part of my investigation under Section 25 of the Act, I am obliged to hold a hearing. I find that the complainant’s failure to attend such a hearing was unreasonable in the circumstances and that any obligation under 25(1) has ceased. As no evidence was given at the hearing in support of the allegation of discrimination I conclude the investigation and find against the complainant.
9 July 2009