Sherlock v The Brewery Pub

Judgment Date19 September 2002
Docket NumberEQUALITY OFFICER’S DECISIONS NO: DEC-S2002-105 File No. ES/2001/291
Date19 September 2002
CourtEquality Tribunal

Equal Status Act 2000

Tom Sherlock
The Brewery Pub, Ennis, Co. Clare


File No. ES/2001/291

ODEI - the equality tribunal



Employment law - Equality – Direct discrimination – Burden of proof – Refusal of service – Membership of the Traveller community – Action taken in good faith – Whether complainant discriminated against – Equal Status Act, 2000.

The complainant contended that he was discriminated against by the respondent, contrary to the Equal Status Act, 2000, on the grounds that he was a member of the Traveller community when he was refused service in the respondent’s premises. The respondent denied that the complainant was discriminated against and that service was, in fact, refused only to the complainant’s brother because of previous unacceptable behaviour on his part.

Held by the Equality Officer in finding that the reason the complainant was refused service was due entirely to his brother’s past unacceptable behaviour and for this reason the complainant had not established a prima facie case of discrimination on the Traveller community ground. Any person, whether a Traveller or a non-Traveller, would, or could, be refused service in the same circumstances. The complainant was not discriminated against on the Traveller community ground contrary to Section 3(1) and 3(2)(i) of the Equal Status Act and in terms of Section 5(1) of that Act.

Date of Issue 19/09/2002
1. Dispute

1 This dispute concerns a claim by Tom Sherlock that on 7 April, 2001, he was refused service in the Brewery Pub on the grounds that he is a member of the Traveller community. The respondent denies that discrimination occurred. The complainant referred a claim 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 then delegated the case to me, Dolores Kavanagh, 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.


Summary of Complainants’ Case.


2.1 The complainant states that he, along with his brother and his cousin, went to the Brewery Pub between 7 and 7.30 p.m. on 7 April, 2001. The complainant’s brother ordered a round of drinks and was refused service. It is the complainants’ contention that they were refused service because they are Travellers.

Summary of Respondent’s Case

3.1 The respondent states that the complainant’s brother had previously behaved in an unacceptable manner in the premises and was barred as a result. It was for this reason that service was refused to the complainant’s brother on 7 April, 2001.

4. Evidence of the Parties
4.1. Complainant's Evidence
Mr. Tom Sherlock, Complainant

Mr. Sherlock stated that:


He is a member of the Traveller community. His family were nomadic until 1977-78 at which time they settled.


On 7 April, 2001 he had travelled to Ennis at his brother’s invitation for the occasion of his nephew’s confirmation. Following the confirmation service the family had gone to the house of Mr. Sherlock’s brother, Mr. John Sherlock, for refreshments (tea, coffee, sandwiches). There was no alcohol provided or consumed in the home of his brother that afternoon.


On 7 April, 2001 between 7.00-7.30 p.m he, his brother and his cousin went to the Brewery Pub, Ennis. His brother, John Sherlock, had chosen to go to the Brewery Pub for a drink. They asked for a drink and were refused service. When he asked why they were being refused service he was told that it was manager’s orders.


The complainant knew that his brother, a heavy drinker, would be refused service in 4-5 local pubs but did not know why this was the case.


None of the group had ever been to the Brewery Pub previously. They were sober, dressed respectably and are all aged over eighteen.


After the refusal he had asked to speak with the manager and was told that the manager was not about.


On entering the pub all three members of the group had gone to the bar but John Sherlock, the complainant’s brother, had asked for service and had been refused.


The group left the pub and met up with some acquaintances. They decided that there was no point staying in Ennis as they would not be served in the pubs there. They went to a pub some five miles outside Ennis where they knew that Travellers would be served


He feels that the only reason for the refusal of service in the Brewery Pub was because he and his companions had been recognised as Travellers, that this often occurred because Travellers are recognised because of their appearance, dress, accent and pronunciation.


Nobody in the group stumbled in the pub on 7 April, 2001 as claimed by the respondent.

Mr. John Sherlock, witness for the complainant

Mr. Sherlock stated that:


He is the complainant’s brother, and it was he who had invited the complainant to Ennis on the occasion of his (John Sherlock’s) son’s confirmation.


He had gone with the complainant and a cousin of theirs to the Brewery Pub on the evening in question. He had no idea why he chose the Brewery Pub. His wife had driven them to the Square in Ennis and dropped them off there. The Brewery Pub is nearby where they were dropped off but was not the nearest pub.


He could not remember ever being in the Brewery Pub previously.


He did not remember being in the company of, or any incident involving the individual “X”, named by the respondent as having been involved in a violent incident in the pub in late 2000/early 2001.


His usual drink is a pint of Harp lager. His companions drink a variety of drinks. Few of them drink Harp.


He vaguely remembers a day when he was in the Brewery Pub with “X”. He, John Sherlock, was sitting at a table having a drink and the other individual, “X”, seemed to be having trouble getting served as he was at the bar for a long time. He could not remember what was said by “X” or the barman and he could not remember whether he heard raised voices. He, John Sherlock, was refused a second drink on that occasion and he had no idea why he was refused.


When his companion, “X”, was at the bar shouting at the manager he did not hear what was said.


When the barman had refused service on 7 April, 2001 he and his cousin had left the pub. His brother, the complainant, told them when he came out a bit later that he had asked to speak to the manager and that the manager was not there.


He has no idea why he didn’t make a complaint himself against the respondent.

4.2 Respondent's Evidence
Mr. Justin O’Driscoll, Respondent

Mr. O’Driscoll stated that:


He is the owner and the manager of the Brewery Pub, Ennis.


He was not present when service was refused to the complainant’s group on 7 April, 2001. The barman on duty on the evening in question had contacted him and informed him of what had occurred. He arrived in the bar about a half an hour later.


It is standard practice in the Pub that where any person is not served he, Mr. O’Driscoll, is to be informed immediately


The barman had told him that three men had come into the pub and that one of them had stumbled on the way in the door. The man who had stumbled was known to the barman, i.e. John Sherlock. The barman was aware that John Sherlock was barred from the pub at that time.


The bar staff in the pub would never say that a patron was being refused “because of manager’s orders”. It was standard practice in the pub that the bar staff, when aware that someone was barred, would refer the individual to the manager.


The reason John Sherlock was barred was because of his association with an individual, “X”, who had caused trouble in the premises previously. The individual in question had had a very heated and loud argument with his girlfriend/female companion in the pub on a night circa late 2000- early 2001. When the bouncer on duty at that time had tried to intervene “X” head butted the bouncer and broke his nose. The bouncer had to be taken to hospital.


On an afternoon (2-2.30 p.m.) some three weeks later “X”, who had assaulted the bouncer, entered the pub with John Sherlock. The latter was served a drink but the other individual was refused service because of his earlier violent conduct. The individual in question had become argumentative and insulting towards Mr. O’Driscoll. John Sherlock, who was taking “X”’s part had reached over the counter and grabbed a half pint glass and poured half of his drink into the other glass and handed it to “X”. The latter had threatened “to get Mr. O’Driscoll’s license” and had taken out a mobile phone and stated that he was “ringing a solicitor in Gort”. Mr. O’Driscoll left the two at the bar and gave instructions not to serve them. Eventually they left the pub.


Mr. O’Driscoll recalled clearly that John Sherlock was served a pint of Harp on the afternoon in question, which was his usual drink. (This was confirmed by John Sherlock)


Mr. Sherlock (John) had been served on the premises a number of times prior to the afternoon in question and was well known to Mr. O’Driscoll.


John Sherlock had come into the premises on a number of occasions following the afternoon in question and had been refused service because of his and his companion’s...

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