I was recently in a restaurant in the City Centre with a friend, when the owner of the restaurant accused me of trying to leave the premises without paying for my lunch. I was extremely embarrassed, as the owner shouted this accusation in front of other customers. I assured him that I had paid for the lunch and proceeded to look for the receipt yet he continued to demand payment. A member of his staff eventually intervened and confirmed to him that I had indeed paid. I am a member of the Travelling Community and I feel that I was discriminated against. Can you please advise me on what action I may take.
Thank you very much for your letter. Obviously, this incident caused you serious distress and embarrassment, particularly with the owner’s persistence with his allegation, despite your assurances that you had paid in full. The Equal Status Acts, 2000-2004, provides that it is unlawful in Ireland to discriminate when providing goods, services or facilities on the basis of a person’s gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race or membership of the Travelling Community. The Acts provide that a person who is thinking of bringing a complaint, known as the Complainant, must first send a written Notification to the person they wish to complain against, known as the Respondent. The Notification must contain specific information in relation to the discriminatory treatment and must generally be sent to the Respondent within two months of the incident. In some circumstances, the Equal Status Acts provide for the time limit for notification to be extended to a maximum of four months from the incident. If you do not receive a reply from the Respondent, or if you are not happy with the reply which you receive, then you may proceed to make a complaint under the Equal Status Acts to the Equality Tribunal, 3, Clonmel Street, Dublin 2. The Tribunal is an independent body set up by law to mediate, investigate and make decisions regarding complaints of discrimination. Tribunal decisions are legally binding. If you require further advice, then please contact your Solicitor, representative organisation or support group.
With Every Good Wish.