Case Number: DEC-S2016-014. Workplace Relations Commission

CourtWorkplace Relations Commission
Judgment Date01 February 2016
Docket NumberDEC-S2016-014
PartiesSangeetha Niranjan -V- H&M Hennes & Mauritz
EQUAL STATUS ACTS DECISION NO. DEC-S2016-014 PARTIES Sangeetha Niranjan AND H&M Hennes & Mauritz (represented by A & L Goodbody, Solicitors) File reference: ES/2014/0088 Date of issue: February 2016

HEADNOTES: Equal Status Acts 2000-2004-Race-Civil Status.


1.1 This dispute concerns a claim by Ms Niranjan that she was discriminated against by the respondent on the grounds of race contrary to section 3 of the Equal Status Acts in respect of the disposal of goods.

1.2 The complainant referred her claim to the Director of the Equality Tribunal on April 24th 2014 under the Equal Status Act.

1.3 On October 8th, 2015, in accordance with his powers under section 41 of the Workplace Relations Commission Act 2015 Acts, the Director General of the Workplace Relations Commission delegated the case to me, Pat Brady, an Adjudication Officer, for investigation, hearing and decision and for the exercise of other relevant functions of the Director General under Part VII of the Acts, on which date my investigation commenced. Submissions were received from both sides and in accordance with Section 79(1) of the Acts and as part of my investigation I proceeded to a hearing on October 10th 2015.

1.4 This decision is issued by me following the establishment of the Workplace Relations Commission, as an Adjudication Officer who was an Equality Officer prior to the 1st October 2015, in accordance with Section 84 (3) of the Workplace Relations Act 2015.


2.1 The complainant was shopping in the respondent’s shop in Limerick and heard one of the Sales Assistants tell another customer that she only had plastic bags available for ‘wrapping’ goods purchased. She was surprised at this and then noticed that the customer was, (in the complainant’s words ‘a non white Muslim customer (who in any event declined the offer of the bag as she had her own).

2.2 Despite this she then saw another customer leave the pay point with a large branded H & M bag. This customer was described by the complainant as ‘white’.

2.3 When it came to the complainant’s turn to pay for her goods she was told that only white plastic bags were available. After a protest and a threat to return the goods she had bought she was given the branded bag.

2.4 She observed other customers being given branded bags and formed an impression that bags were being allocated on the basis of the customer’s racial background and that this represented discrimination. She said she was ‘humiliated, differentiated horrified and confused’ by the behaviour of the shop assistant.


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