Case Number: DEC-S2016-019. Workplace Relations Commission

CourtWorkplace Relations Commission
Judgment Date01 March 2016
Docket NumberDEC-S2016-019
PartiesMichael Power -v- Minister for Finance
EQUAL STATUS ACTS, 2000 to 2011 DECISION NO. DEC-S2016-019 PARTIES Michael Power -v- Minister for Finance File reference: et-151177-es-14 Date of issue: 18th March 2016 1. Background to the Claim

1.1 The complainant referred a complaint to the Director of the Equality Tribunal under the Equal Status Acts, 2000 to 2011 on the 1st December, 2014. On the 22nd December, 2015, in accordance with his powers under section 75 of the Employment Equality Act, 1998 and under the Equal Status Acts, 2000 the Director General delegated the case to me, Enda Murphy, an Equality Officer/Adjudication 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, 2000 on which date my investigation commenced. As required by Section 25(1) and as part of my investigation, I proceeded to hearing on the on the 2nd March, 2016. Final correspondence from the parties was received on 7th March, 2016.

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

2. Dispute

2.1 The dispute concerns a claim by the complainant that he was discriminated against by the above named respondent on the disability ground in terms of Sections 3(1)(a) and 3(2)(g) contrary to Section 5 of the Equal Status Acts in relation to access to a service which is generally available to the public.

3. Summary of the Complainant's

3.1 The complainant has a disability (namely, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type 1) which was sustained following a workplace accident in April, 2010. As a result of this disability the complainant requires special adaptations to his car. The complainant submitted that he made two separate applications to the Health Service Executive for a Primary Medical Certificate which is a requirement to make an application for a tax concession to adapt the car for a person with a disability. The benefit of the Primary Medical Certificate is that a person with a disability may qualify for relief from Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT), VAT, motor tax and fuel costs (up to certain limits) under the provisions of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme. The complainant submitted that both of these applications for a Primary Medical Certificate were refused on the basis that his particular disability does not meet the strict medical criterial to qualify for access to the Scheme. The complainant also appealed these decisions to the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal (namely, the appellate body under the terms of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme) but the appeals were dismissed on both occasions.

3.2 The complainant submitted that the qualifying criteria for access to the Scheme discriminate against persons (such as him) with an upper body disability in favour of persons with a lower body disability. The complainant’s submissions on this issue can be summarized as follows:

· The complainant’s disability, even though it might in theory be upper body related, requires the same adaptations to his car as if his disability affected his lower body which means that he incurs the same costs as a person with a lower body disability.

· The complainant’s disability affects his whole body and mobility due to the constant pain associated with the condition. As he is not allowed to use a simulator whilst driving, the pain levels are heightened and again spread to other parts of the body. His mobility is not only compromised because of the pain but also because of the knock-on effect on his body.

· All disabilities are different and the complainant submitted that there should be room to make exceptions to the current criteria to qualify for a Primary Medical Certificate in severe and unusual cases. The Primary Medical Certificate was introduced in 1989 and revised in 1994, nearly a quarter of a century ago, and much has changed in the interim regarding disabilities but the qualifying criteria for the Scheme have remained unchanged during this period. It is time to treat people with disabilities fairly and not discriminate against a certain group of persons with upper body disabilities in terms of the eligibility criteria for this Scheme.

· The complainant has been a responsible driver both for his own and his family’s safety and the safety of other road users and has undertaken all of the necessary assessments, purchases and adaptations to his car without any financial assistance even though he can no longer work because of his disability. He submits that...

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