Dismissal on Discriminatory Grounds

Background to Complaint

The complainant claimed that the respondent discriminated against him on the Traveller community ground when he applied to transfer to the Roscommon branch of the Irish Soccer Referees Society. His request to become a member of that branch was refused.

The respondent rejected the complainant’s allegation that it discriminated against the complainant on the Traveller community ground and submitted that it does not discriminate as to who may join the association other than that they must abide by the Constitution of the society and meet the criteria set out in the rules for membership.

The respondent considered that the complainant’s reason for leaving the Longford branch of the Society was contradicted by the information provided by members of that branch when they sought to verify the matter.

Equality Officers View

The Equality Officer considered that if the reason for wanting to leave one branch of the association is relevant when seeking to transfer to another branch, that should be clearly set out in advance and communicated to applicants particularly as there is no reference to reason for leaving in the Constitution.

The Equality Officer also referred to an article in the local newspaper in relation to an AGM of the Roscommon branch held in May 2004, which reported that at the meeting, an official of the branch referred to a shortage of referees and that five or six more referees would be needed for the new season.

The complainant had complied with the rules of the Constitution in that he had sought approval to transfer from the branch of which he was already a member.

He had not been the subject of any disciplinary proceedings and at the time of his application, there was in reality a shortage of referees in the Roscommon area.

Minutes of the meeting on 18 December 2003 with officials were not taken and there was a complete lack of transparency in relation to the complainant’s application.

Additionally, the principles of natural justice were not adhered to and in the circumstances; the Equality Officer found that the complainant had established a prima facie case of discrimination on the Traveller community ground.

Equality Officer Awards Compensation for Discrimination

The Equality Officer found that the respondent discriminated against the complainant on the Traveller community ground.

She ordered that the respondent pay the complainant the sum of €5,000 compensation for the effects of the act of discrimination.

Case: Stokes v Irish Soccer Referees Society (Roscommon Branch), Equality Tribunal
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