Equality Tribunal fines property management company for Traveller discrimination

A recent Equality Tribunal decision came to our attention. The parties involved were Maughan v. Grattan Lodge Management Company and the Equality Tribunal found that the applicant had been discriminated against and harassed by her management company in violation of the Equal Status Acts.
Ms. Maughan, the complainant, was represented by Siobhan Phelan on behalf of the Irish Traveller Movement.
The complainant contrasted her treatment with that of another tenant in an effort to display the discrimination that had taken place against her on the basis of her being a member of the Traveller community. She also claimed that power was cut to her apartment during winter, as part of this less-favourable treatment.
The Equality Officer, in considering the claims of discrimination and harassment, held that the actions taken by the management company were motivated by the fact that she was a Traveller.
On balance, the Officer preferred the applicant’s evidence, but said that “even if I were to prefer the evidence of the respondent in every respect, the degree of leniency and patience the respondent showed with respect to [the other] tenant contrasts vividly with the treatment of the complainant”
The Officer found in favour of Ms Maughan and awarded her €6250, as well as ordering the respondent to undergo a course of training on the Equal Status Acts, with a particular emphasis on the Traveller ground.
The applicant was represented by Siobhan Phelan BL, who was instructed by the Irish Traveller Movement.
We welcome the decision of the Equality Tribunal. It highlights the difficulties and hardship which travelers often face in securing appropriate accommodation. It requires that proper equality training be provided in the area of equal status on all grounds and ensures that claims of discrimination and harassment will be taken seriously and will not be tolerated.
Brophy Solicitors
06.07.12
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