A traveller who claimed she was asked to leave a branch of the maternity and childcare shop Mothercare by a male member of staff has been awarded €1,500 by the Equality Tribunal.
Mothercare Ireland Ltd had said it had no male employees in the store and that the incident never happened.
Margaret Connors said she was refused service and asked to leave the shop in the Carrickmines Retail Park, Dublin, and could see no other reason for this action other than she was a member of the Travelling community.
Ms Connors claimed she went to the shop with her brother and four children in November 2009 to buy a present when she was approached by a man in “casual clothing” who asked her to leave.
When she asked for a reason, a woman in store uniform joined the man and also asked Ms Connors to leave. Ms Connors asked the woman for a reason and claims she was told “we do not need to give you a reason”.
She said she and her family left the shop feeling “humiliated” and that her eight-year-old daughter was particularly upset by the incident.
Mothercare denied the incident took place and said it had no male members of staff at the store at the time. It was informed about the alleged incident through Ms Connors’s solicitor in January 2010. It subsequently questioned its staff who said they knew nothing about it, the company told the tribunal.
Equality officer Tara Coogan, who chaired the tribunal, said Ms Connors and Mothercare gave “honest accounts of their version of events”.
She found the company did not take the allegation seriously enough and did not give consideration to the possibility that a male employee from outside the Carrickmines branch was visiting the store.
Ms Coogan found Ms Connors was a credible witness and she had been discriminated against.
In another case, a Chechen Muslim woman was also awarded €1,500 for discrimination after she was asked to leave a shoe shop. Khedi Bisayeva said she had been mistaken for a Roma because of her traditional national dress.
Ms Bisayeva said she was in Pavers shoe shop in the Westend Retail Centre in Blanchardstown in March 2009 when she was told to leave by members of the centre’s security staff. A security supervisor told the tribunal that Ms Bisayeva had been involved in a previous incident in another store, where she had been suspected of trying to steal clothes.
Equality officer Elaine Cassidy found this accusation to be false and found Ms Bisayeva was discriminated against on the grounds of her race.
In an employment equality case, the tribunal awarded more than €14,000 to a woman who was made redundant from her job in a restaurant when she became pregnant.
The tribunal found Jevgenija Petrakova had been discriminated against by Lexor Entertainment Ltd on gender grounds. No representatives of the company attended the hearing.
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