€5,000 award for Traveller denied room in two hotels
A traveller woman has been awarded €5,000 after being discriminated against by two Co Galway accommodation providers in the space of a few hours last year.
On February 20, 2018, Geraldine Ward travelled from Dublin to Co Galway to attend her uncle's funeral in Loughrea.
Ms Ward's sister had bookings confirmed for the Auld Triangle B&B and the Meadow Court hotel in Loughrea with booking.com.
However, they failed to secure a room and Ms Ward was forced to "freshen up" for the funeral removal in her car.
Ms Ward subsequently took discrimination cases under the Equal Status Act to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), which upheld her discrimination claims, ordering each provider to pay her €2,500.
WRC adjudication officer Ray Flaherty said Ms Ward was discriminated against on the grounds of being a Traveller by the two providers.
Ms Ward's sister secured a room for the two at the Meadow Court at 5.51pm on February 20 through booking.com after the sisters earlier failed to secure a reserved room through the same website at the Auld Triangle B&B in Loughrea, which had locked entrances when they arrived.
However, when Ms Ward turned up at the hotel reception on the Tuesday evening in February of last year - after coming from the mortuary after her uncle's removal - a receptionist told them that there had been a mistake and that the hotel was full.
Ms Ward told the WRC hearing that she did not believe that the hotel was fully booked, when there were only six people in the restaurant and very few cars in the car park.
The cases were taken on behalf of Ms Ward by the Connacht Citizens' Information Service.
In response, a representative for the hotel told the WRC that it uses several websites for booking and that booking.com had oversold its allocation of rooms.
They stated that as the premises does not have high-speed broadband, this can lead to delays in receipt of confirmations. The hotel claimed that it did not discriminate against Ms Ward, pointing out Ms Ward and her sister were served food at the hotel.
In his findings, Mr Flaherty found that on the balance of probabilities, Ms Ward's booked accommodation with the hotel was cancelled on the basis that she was a member of the Traveller community.
Mr Flaherty also found that Ms Ward was denied access to the B&B for the same reason and has ordered the Auld Triangle to pay her €2,500.