WRC AWARDS FLAC CLIENT COMPENSATION FOR TRAVELLER DISCRIMINATION
30 September 2022
FLAC welcomes the decision of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to award its client €2,000 for the effects of the discrimination he was subjected to by a local waste management company.
On 4 February 2021, FLAC’s client sought to hire a skip for the purpose of tidying up around his halting site. He contacted a local waste management company by telephone and spoke to a customer representative who informed FLAC’s client about the company’s skip options and associated prices. However, having provided the customer representative with his address, FLAC’s client was informed, point-blank, that the company would not deliver a skip to a halting site.
At the WRC hearing, the waste management company asserted that the refusal to deliver to a halting site was a premised on a policy based on objective reasons concerning the safety of the skip. However, in reaching her decision, the WRC Adjudicator noted that the company had been unable to produce any written evidence of its asserted policy to substantiate its defence, nor could the company provide any direct evidence of a substantial risk of damage to its skip if it completed the transaction.
The Adjudicator found that FLAC’s client had established that he had been treated unfavourably on the Traveller community ground and that the waste management company had failed to show that there was a credible, non-discriminatory reason for its treatment of FLAC’s client. The Adjudicator directed the company to pay FLAC’s client €2,000 in compensation for the effects of the discrimination suffered.
Christopher McCann, FLAC Solicitor, noted that:
“This case highlights the pervasive nature of discrimination against Travellers in Irish society and the extent to which Travellers are denied access to the most basic of services. Transactions which are routine for the settled population are commonly made impossible for Travellers like our client, who, in the course of trying to hire a skip, was subjected to humiliating treatment, based upon his ethnicity.”
Eilis Barry, FLAC Chief Executive, stated:
“While FLAC welcomes the decision of the WRC, this case underlines the need for the State to provide advice and representation through its scheme of civil legal aid to Travellers and other marginalised groups who are notionally protected by equality legislation. That legislation is only useful if it is enforced and it can only be enforced if assistance is available. FLAC considers it essential that the ongoing review of the civil legal aid scheme results in the extension of legal aid to such cases.”
Notes to Editor:
FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is an Irish human rights organisation, which exists to promote equal access to justice. In July 2020, FLAC launched its dedicated Traveller Legal Service. Supported by The Community Foundation for Ireland and in cooperation with a Steering Group made up of representation from the national Traveller organisations, the aims of the Service are to empower Travellers and Traveller groups to engage with the law as a means of combating discrimination and advancing the rights of Travellers in Irish Society. The TLS comprises a full-time solicitor, Christopher McCann for three years. Referrals to the Service come through national and local Traveller organisations.
Decision of the Workplace Relations Commission: