Collins v Drogheda Lodge Pub

 
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OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF EQUALITY INVESTIGATIONS

DEC-S2002-097 / 100

File No. ES/2001/648 -651

Equal Status Act 2000

Mary Collins, Michael Collins, James Dinnegan and Bridget McDonagh (represented by Hughes, Murphy Walsh & Co, Solicitors)
v.
Drogheda Lodge Pub, Finglas (represented by Mason Hayes Curran, Solicitors)

Equality - Equal Status - Direct discrimination - Membership of the Traveller community, - Supply of goods and services - Refusal of service in pub - Action taken in good faith - Action required by an enactment - Publicans’ obligations under the Licensing Acts

Equal Status Act 2000 - Direct discrimination, section 3(1)(a) - Membership of the Traveller community, section 3(2)(i) - Supply of goods and services, section 5(1) - Refusal of service in pub - Action taken in good faith, section 15(2) - Action required by an enactment, section 14 - Publicans’ obligations under the Licensing Acts

Dispute
1

This dispute concerns a complaint by Mary & Michael Collins, James Dinnegan and Bridget McDonagh that they were discriminated against, contrary to the Equal Status Act 2000, by the Drogheda Lodge Pub, Finglas. The complainants maintain that they were discriminated against on the Traveller community ground in terms of sections 3(1)(a) and 3(2)(i) of the Equal Status Act 2000 in not being provided with a service which is generally available to the public contrary to Section 5(1) of the Act.

Complaint
2

The complainants state that the doorman allowed them access to the pub on 7 July 2001 but when they ordered a drink inside, they were told that the Manager had instructed that they were not to be served. The complainants claim that they were refused service because they were identified as members of the Traveller community.

3

The respondents totally reject that they operate a discriminatory policy against Travellers. They maintain that they have a duty to their customers to ensure that the Drogheda Lodge is a safe and well-run establishment. In order to do so, they state that they operate a very strict admission policy and that the complainants were asked to leave the premises because the manager considered that one of the females was not suitably attired. The respondents maintain that their decision constituted action taken “in good faith” in accordance with Section 15(2) of the Equal Status Act 2000.

Decision
4

The Equality Officer found that the respondents had not acted in “good faith” as their decision to refuse service was prompted by a discriminatory reason i.e. that the complainants were recognised as Travellers on arrival in the pub.

5

The Equality Officer found that discrimination had occurred and ordered that three of the complainants be paid €€000 each and the other, who was a regular up until the incident, €€500.

Equal Status Act 2000
Decision DEC-2002-097/100
Mary Collins, Michael Collins, James Dinnegan and Bridget McDonagh
6

(represented by Hughes, Murphy Walsh & Co, Solicitors)

v
Drogheda Lodge Pub, Finglas
7

(represented by Mason Hayes Curran, Solicitors)

1. Dispute
8

1.1 This dispute concerns a complaint by Mary & Michael Collins, James Dinnegan and Bridget McDonagh that they were discriminated against, contrary to the Equal Status Act 2000, by the Drogheda Lodge Pub, Finglas.

9

The complainants maintain that they were discriminated against on the Traveller community ground in terms of sections 3(1) and 3(2)(i) of the Equal Status Act 2000 in not being provided with a service which is generally available to the public contrary to Section 5(1) of the Act.

2. Summary of the Complainant's Case
10

2.1 The complainants state that the doorman allowed them access to the pub on 7 July 2001 but when they ordered a drink inside, they were told that the Manager had instructed that they were not to be served. The complainants claim that they were refused service because they were identified as members of the Traveller community.

3.
Summary of Respondent's Case
11

3.1 The respondents totally reject that they operate a discriminatory policy against Travellers. They maintain that they have a duty to their customers to ensure that the Drogheda Lodge is a safe and well-run establishment. In order to do so, they state that they operate a very strict admission policy and that the complainants were asked to leave the premises because the manager considered that one of the females was not suitably attired. The respondents maintain that their decision constituted action taken “in good faith” in accordance with Section 15(2) of the Equal Status Act 2000.

4 Delegation under the Equal Status Act, 2000
12

4.1 These complaints were referred to the Director of Equality Investigations under the Equal Status Act 2000. In accordance with her powers under section 75 of the Employment Equality Act 1998 and under the Equal Status Act 2000, the Director has delegated these complaints to myself, Brian O’Byrne, 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, 2000.

5.1 Evidence of Complainants
13

? Michael and Mary Collins, who are both Travellers, have been living in the settled community for the past 2 to 3 years.

14

? James Dinnigan and Bridget McDonagh, also both Travellers, returned to Ireland from England at the start of 2001 having spent 7 years living there. They had previously lived in Finglas.

15

? James Dinnigan drank in the Drogheda Lodge regularly every Saturday in the 6 months leading up to 7 July 2001.

16

? Bridget McDonagh visited the Drogheda Lodge for the first time on 30 June 2001, a week before the complaint date, accompanied by her husband James Dinnigan.

17

? Michael Collins had only been in the Drogheda Lodge once before, 2 months prior to 7 July 2001.

18

? Mary Collins said she was a non-drinker and had never been in the Drogheda Lodge before.

19

? The group arrived at the pub at 8.30 pm approximately.

20

? Mr Dinnigan stated that he recognised the doorman, who I shall refer to as Mr A, from meeting him regularly at the door over the previous months.

21

? Mr A greeted them and opened the door to let them in.

22

? Mary Collins described how she was wearing a light pink jumper, ¾ length black slacks and sandals. She also wore a medalion-type necklace and large earrings.

23

? Neither of the women wore a dress that night.

24

? The two male complainants wore casual clothes.

25

? The four complainants walked along the bar to a table at the rear of the pub.

26

? Mr Dinnigan went to the toilet while Michael Collins ordered a round of drinks from a lounge-boy.

27

? When the lounge-boy went to the bar, he was engaged in conversation by Mr Mark O’Riordan and Mr Joseph Finnegan who kept staring at the group.

28

? It was obvious to the complainants that the staff were discussing them and they felt very embarrassed.

29

? The lounge-boy returned to the table and informed Mr Collins that the manager had instructed him not to serve them.

30

? When Mr Dinnigan returned from the toilet, Mr A came over to him and said “I’m sorry but I have to ask you to leave”. Mr A informed him that he did not know what the problem was but that he had been told to do so by the Manager.

31

? Michael Collins approached Mr Finnegan and asked for a reason. Mr Finnegan replied that he did not have to give one but commented that “it was not because of who he was”. When Mr Collins asked him what he meant, he said that Mr Finnegan referred to him being a Traveller.

32

? The group left the Drogheda Lodge at 8.45 pm.

33

? No mention whatsoever of a dress-code was made by the respondents on 7 July 2001.

5.2 Evidence of Complainants’ Witness - Mr Kieron Collins
34

? Mr Collins gave evidence of an incident that occurred in the Drogheda Lodge involving himself and some other individuals.

35

? Mr Collins claimed that on that occasion he was refused service because of his membership of the Traveller community

36

? Mr Collins also indicated that the incident he referred to was currently the subject of investigation by the Office of the Director of Equality Investigations.

37

? A letter from Mason Hayes & Curran, on behalf of the Drogheda Lodge, was submitted by Mr Collins. In that letter the respondents replied to Mr Collins’ allegation of discrimination, disputing that their actions constituted discrimination and stating that service was refused because certain individuals were inebriated.

5.3 Evidence of Respondents
38

? The Drogheda Lodge has been run by the O’Riordan family for 22 years.

39

? Their clientele are mainly middle-aged and from the Finglas area.

40

? They have 12 to 15 regular Traveller customers.

41

? A security company are engaged to supply a doorman every night.

42

? The pub’s admission policy has been communicated to the security company.

43

? Doormen are expected to watch for known troublemakers or people who appear to already have drink taken.

44

? The pub also operates a dress code which requires doormen to watch for baseball caps, runners, shorts, vests, earrings, tattoos or other items which may identify someone as “rough-looking”.

45

? The dress code...

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