Case Number: DEC-S2012-014- Full Case Report. Equality Tribunal

CourtEquality Tribunal
Date26 April 2012
Docket NumberDEC-S2012-014- Full Case Report
The Equality Tribunal
Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2011

Decision Number
DEC-S2012-014

Parties

Martina Reidy
(Represented by Charles O'Connor Solicitors)

V

Bus Éireann

Case ref: ES/2009/0036 Issued: 26 April 2012

Keywords:
Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2004 - Harassment -Disability - Provision of Goods and Services - Prima Facie case

1. Delegation under the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2008

1.1. Ms. Martina Reidy (hereafter "the complainant") referred a claim to the Director of the Equality Tribunal under the Equal Status Acts on 16 March 2009. The respondent was notified of these complaints in accordance with the Acts on 10 February 2009. In accordance with his powers under section 75 of the Employment Equality Act, 1998 and section 25 of the Equal Status Acts, 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 Acts on 27 September 2011. An oral hearing, as part of the investigation was held in Dublin on 30 March 2012. An adjournment had been granted to the complainant in circumstances where her solicitor was unavailable due court commitments.

2. Dispute

2.1. The dispute concerns a complaint of unlawful harassment on the disability ground. The complainant submitted that Bus Éireann (hereafter "the respondent") harassed her in a terrible manner on 8 November 2008 at approximately 10.20 am. For reasons unknown the respondent driver became extremely aggressive to the complainant, shouting and pointing a finger at her. The driver told the complainant that he would not allow her to travel on a bus driven by him again. The complainant is deeply embarrassed and greatly offended by this treatment.

3. Case for the complainant

3.1. The complainant is a person with disabilities. She suffers with kidney complaints, hearing difficulties and depression. She has a companion pass awarded to her by the Department of Social Protection. It entitles the complainant and a companion who is aged 16 or over to free travel with the respondent.

3.2. The complainant was travelling to Cork on 8 November 2008. It was a Saturday morning. The complainant was travelling with her daughter and sister (who is also the complainant's carer). As the bus arrived to the bus stop, the complainant's daughter got on first, purchasing her ticket. The complainant's sister who also was travelling on a free pass, embarked next. She indicated her pass to the driver and stated her destination. The complainant got on last and also indicated her companion pass to he driver. She also stated her destination in a low voice.

3.3. The complainant had made her way pass the driver when the driver suddenly started shouting at her. The driver told the complainant: "Don't you walk away from me". He pointed his finger at the complainant who replied that she had told him where she was going and that she was not feeling well. The driver replied: "I am not well talking to you". It was also submitted that the driver told the complainant and her sister that: "youse will never get on my bus again." It was pointed out that the driver was from Dublin.

3.4. The complainant's sister, who gave evidence at the hearing, stated that she heard the complainant state her destination to the driver and that when she called at her sister to sit down the driver warned her "not to tell that lady to sit down while I [the driver] am speaking to you".

3.5. The complainant felt humiliated because people on the bus kept looking at her. She stated that some of the persons on the bus would have been known to her and that it was humiliating for her that the driver behaved towards her in the way he did. The complainant stated that she was frightened because she thought that the driver was "going to go for me". The driver then made the matters worse by staring at the complainant and her companion throughout the journey. Both the complainant and her sister felt mortified by the treatment.

3.6. As soon as the complainant and her witness reached their destination they made a complaint to an inspector. The complainant received a phone call from the respondent a couple of days after making her complaint. She chose not to engage with the respondent having instructed a solicitor by then.

3.7. It was submitted that the complaint would have been satisfied with a simple apology for the appalling treatment that she received. The complainant accepts that the harassment she experienced does not warrant the maximum redress under the Acts but submitted that redress somewhere in the middle of the spectrum would be appropriate. The complainant still has flashbacks about the humiliation that she experienced that day.

4. Case for the respondent

4.1. The respondent is coach operator who provides services nationwide. 30% of the...

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