Waste management company to pay €2,000 after refusing services to halting site

Waste management company to pay €2,000 after refusing services to halting site

Christopher McCann

A waste management company which refused to deliver a skip to a halting site has been ordered by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to pay €2,000 in compensation for discriminating against Travellers.

A man had contacted the company by phone in February 2021 seeking to hire a skip for the purpose of tidying up around his halting site. After having its services explained to him, he provided his address and was subsequently told that the company would not deliver a skip to a halting site.

With support from legal rights group FLAC, the man brought a complaint against the company to the WRC.

At the hearing, the 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 the man €2,000 in compensation for the effects of the discrimination suffered.

Christopher McCann, FLAC solicitor, said: “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, added: “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.”

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