Case Number: DEC-S2016-018. Workplace Relations Commission

CourtWorkplace Relations Commission
Date09 March 2016
Docket NumberDEC-S2016-018
PartiesNoel Mulryan -V- Road Safety Authority
EQUAL STATUS ACTS DECISION NO. DEC-S2016-018 PARTIES Noel Mulryan AND Road Safety Authority (Represented by Gary Compton, BL Instructed by Philip Lee Solicitors) File reference: ES/2014/0038 Date of issue: 9 March 2016 1. Background to Claim

1.1 This complaint concerns a claim made by Noel Mulryan (hereinafter “the complainant”) that he was discriminated against by the Road Safety Authority (hereinafter “the respondent”) on the religion ground in terms of section 3 (2) (e) of the Equal Status Acts in relation to not being allowed wear a colander on his head for the purposes of the photograph when he was making an application to renew his driver’s license.

1.2 The complainant referred his claim to the Director of the Equality Tribunal on 2 December 2013 under the Equal Status Acts, 2000 – 2013 (hereinafter “the Acts”). In accordance with his powers under Section 75 of the Acts, the Director delegated the complaint to me, Valerie Murtagh, an Adjudication Officer, for investigation, hearing and decision and for the exercise of other relevant functions of the Director under Part VIII of the Acts. On 3 November 2015, my investigation commenced when the complaint was delegated to me. In accordance with Section 25(1) and as part of my investigation, an oral hearing was held on 8 December 2015 and both parties were in attendance.

1.3 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. Summary of the Complainant’s case

2.1 The complainant states that on 9 September 2013, he applied to the Motor Tax office for a change of address on his driver’s license. He provided a form, passport sixed photographs and proof of address as required. The complainant also included a letter explaining that he was wearing headwear in his photo due to his religious beliefs. The Complainant states that he received a letter dated 21 October 2013 explaining that after consultation with the respondent that his driving license application “was being refused on two grounds (i) the photo captured should have a clear view of the eyes/eyebrows/forehead area with minimal shadows (ii) while it is acceptable to wear head covering in accordance with religious beliefs, we do not believe that you have demonstrated that the use of head covering is related to a religious belief.” The complainant submits that at this point he felt he was being discriminated against because of his religious beliefs. He had already explained in the letter accompanying his application that he was wearing a colander on his head for religious purposes i.e. as he is a Pastafarian. The complainant did accept that his head covering could be smaller so he re-submitted his application on 23 October 2013 with new passport sized photographs. He also included an accompanying letter with examples of other fellow Pastafarians wearing their religious headwear in official government issued documents. He received a letter dated 21 November from the respondent suggesting that his religious beliefs were a parody and as a result his license application would not be accepted.

2.2 The complainant submits that he was treated less favourably on grounds of his religion. He states that persons of other religious persuasions are allowed to wear religious headwear but he is not. The complainant contends...

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