O'Donnell v D & N Tavern Ltd t/a Caulfields Pub

 
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Equality Officer Decisions No. DEC-S2002-120 & 121

File Ref. ES/2001/669-670

Equal Status Act 2000

Tommy and Mary O’Donnell (represented by Mr Michael Waugh )
v.
D & N Taverns Ltd t/a Caulfields Pub, Maynooth (represented by Smith Foy & Partners, Solicitors)
Abstract:

Employment law - Equal status - Discrimination - travelling community - Licensed premises - Refusal of service - Equality tribunal- Equal Status Act 2000

The complainants alleged that they were discriminated against on grounds of being members of the Travelling Community in not receiving service on the respondent's licensed premises. The second claimant also claimed that she was discriminated on grounds of gender. The respondents denied these claims stating that they had been refused service because one of the two females in the group appeared intoxicated.

Held by the equality officer that the complainants failed to establish a prime facie case of discrimination on either gender or Traveller Community grounds and dismissed the case.

Date of Issue 18/11/2002
1. Dispute
1

This dispute concerns a complaint by Tommy and Mary O’Donnell that they were discriminated against, contrary to the Equal Status Act 2000, by Caulfields Pub, Maynooth. 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. Ms O’Donnell also claims that she was discriminated against on the gender ground in terms of section 3(2)(a) of the Equal Status Act 2000.

2. Summary of the Complainant's Case
2

1 The complainants state that they and another couple were refused service in Caulfields Pub on 7 July 2001 on the grounds of their membership of the Traveller community and on the grounds of Ms O’Donnells gender.

3..
Summary of Respondent's Case
3

1 The respondents totally reject that they operated a discriminatory policy against Travellers or women. They maintain that the complainants were refused service because one of the two female members of the group appeared intoxicated.

4 Delegation under the Equal Status Act, 2000
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 claimants
5

The complainants had been served in Caulfields seven years previously, prior to the current owners taking over. The complainants had arranged to meet married friends of theirs from England at 4 p.m. in Maynooth on Saturday 7 July 2001. They travelled from Boyle while their friends came from Tallaght that day

6

They met at a taxi rank in Maynooth and decided to go for a drink. Service was refused in the first pub they visited. They walked down the street where the men got separated from the women at traffic lights. The two men entered Caulfields around 4.30 p.m.

7

They ordered a pint of guinness and a pint of carlsberg from the barman Mr Fitzpatrick

8

Mr Fitzpatrick was busy writing in an accounts book and made no effort to pull their drinks

9

The two wives arrived in about 2 minutes after the men. Mary O’Donnell called for a glass of guinness and a glass of lager at which point Mr Fitzpatrick said “regulars only” and would not serve them

10

Mr O’Donnell enquired as to whether Mr Fitzpatrick was aware of the Equal Status Act, to which Mr Fitzpatrick replied “Tough”. The complainants heard laughter as they left the bar. The friends from England were unable to travel to Ireland for the Hearing

5.2 Evidence of Respondents
11

D & N Taverns Ltd have run Caulfields Pub for four years. The pub has a capacity of 250, most of whom are regulars. All staff have been trained in the provisions of the Equal Status Act 2000 and documentation has been prepared by the company in this regard. All major incidents are recorded in an incident report book. These include violent incidents or where customers have had clothes damaged by spilt drink. The pub has a regular Traveller customer base of about 30 people

12

Mr Fitzpatrick recognised the two men and two women as Travellers when he saw them. The men ordered a pint of guinness and a pint of carlsberg and Mr Fitzpatrick started to pull the drinks. Within two minutes after the men entered, two women came in and gestured to the men

13

One of the women was unsteady on her feet and had a glazed look in her eyes. The two women went and sat down at a table. One of the men went over to them, asked them what they wanted to drink and came back and ordered a glass of carlsberg and a club orange. Mr Fitzpatrick cannot recall whether it was Mrs O’Donnell or the other woman who appeared drunk. The other three people looked OK to him

14

Mr Fitzpatrick decided at that point that he was not going to serve them and said “regulars only”

15

Mr Fitzpatrick’s decision was in line with the pub’s policy of refusing everyone in a group where one member appeared drunk. One of the men got aggressive and referred to the Equal Status Act

16

Mr Fitzpatrick did not consider the incident serious enough to warrant inclusion in the incident report book

17

At the Hearing on 17 October 2002, the respondents questioned the complainants assertion that no drink had been pulled and referred to Mrs O’Donnells written statement that the two men “appeared to be getting served” and another statement that “it seemed he was about to be served”

6 Matters for Consideration
18

6.1 Section 3(1) of the Equal Status Act 2000 states that discrimination shall be taken to occur where, on any of the grounds specified in the Act, a person is treated less favourably than another person is, has been or would be treated. Section 3(2)(a) of the Act...

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