Adjudication officer at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Enda Murphy said he was making the award of €3,000 under the Equal Status Act “due to the seriousness of the discrimination and the humiliating effect it had on the man, due to the very public manner in which he was refused entrance to the hotel restaurant”.
The hotel refused entrance to the man on March 13, 2016, claiming at the WRC that patrons were required to pre-book their meals for the Sunday, as it was Mother’s Day.
However, Mother’s Day actually took place one week prior, on March 6, 2016.
Mr Murphy said that he found the complainant “to be an impressive witness and his detailed evidence to be wholly credible, in relation to the circumstances giving rise to this complaint”.
In his evidence, the man said he and his family arrived at the hotel at 4.15pm on March 13, 2016, and they were met by two doormen, with one of them stating: “Sorry, not today. We have been told not to serve you”.
When the man asked for a reason for the refusal, he was told that they were advised not to serve Travellers.
The father immediately reported the incident to the Garda Síochána and he was extremely upset and distressed.
The man said he frequented the hotel monthly and had done so as recently as March 6, 2016, which was Mother’s Day.
He said that he is a well-known member of the community in the locality and has not been barred from any licensed premises, or in any way been associated with trouble or unsavoury activity.
He said that there was no reason to deny him or his family access to the restaurant.
In cross-examination, the man denied that the reason he was refused entry to the hotel was that only pre-booked customers or residents were being served lunch, on account of it being Mother’s Day.
He said that the date in question was not, in fact, Mother’s Day, as that was March 6, 2016. The man claimed he was refused access to the hotel because of his membership of the Traveller community.
The hotel said that there was a large sign outside the hotel on March 13, 2016, stating that reservations were required for Mother’s Day lunch. The hotel also stated that other Travellers were served lunch in the hotel on the date in question. The hotel stated that the complainant’s evidence that a security guard would openly state that he would refuse entry to the hotel because someone was a Traveller “is not plausible”.
In his findings, Mr Murphy said that he fully accepts the complainant’s uncontradicted version of the events. Mr Murphy said that it was open to the hotel to request hotel staff, including the security guard, who were on duty, to attend the hearing to provide evidence, but such witnesses were not produced.
Mr Murphy said that the hotel had changed hands since the March 2016 incident, but finds that the new owners are vicariously liable for the discrimination, in accordance with the provisions of Section 42 of the Equal Status Acts.
In his ruling, Mr Murphy found that the complainant was refused access to the restaurant at the hotel on March 13, 2016 and that this was attributable to the fact of his membership of the Traveller community.
No parties are named in the report.