FLAC, the organisation that promotes equal access to justice, has welcomed a decision by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to award one of its clients €2,000 for the effects of the discrimination he was subjected to by a waste-management company.
The case arose from a refusal by the company to deliver a skip to a halting site, after a request from FLAC’s client in February 2021.
The client, who wanted to tidy up the area around the site, contacted a local waste-management company by telephone and spoke to a customer representative, who informed him about the options and associated prices.
Having provided the customer representative with his address, however, FLAC’s client was told that the company would not deliver a skip to a halting site.
No written evidence of policy
At the WRC hearing, the waste-management company asserted that its refusal was part of a policy based on “objective reasons concerning the safety of the skip”.
The WRC adjudicator, however, 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 actions.
The company must pay FLAC’s client €2,000 in compensation for the effects of the discrimination suffered.
FLAC solicitor Christopher McCann said that the case highlighted “the pervasive nature” of discrimination against Travellers in Irish society, and the extent to which they were 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,” he added.
FLAC chief executive Eilis Barry welcomed the decision, but warned that the case underlined the need for the State to provide advice and representation through its scheme of civil legal aid to Travellers and other marginalised groups.