Manager's 'tinkers' instruction to guard costs store €7,500
An instruction by an Aldi store manager to a security guard "to keep an eye on the tinkers in Aisle Three" cost the German retailer €7,500.
At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Gerald Keys yesterday approved the award to a 17-year old Traveller girl arising from the incident at the Aldi store in Ennis on November 5 last.
Counsel for the Ennis girl, Patrick Quinn BL, said that Aldi offered €7,500 but has made no admission of liability in the defamation action being brought by the girl - and this rankles with the girl's father.
Mr Quinn said that the girl was in attendance at the Aldi store on Ennis's Francis Street with her infant brother and she was accompanied by a Traveller adult.
Mr Quinn said that the Travellers were approached by another shopper who told them that they overheard the store manager tell one of the security guards 'to keep an eye on the tinkers in Aisle Three'.
The shopper told the Travellers that it was her view that the comment was made about them. Mr Quinn said that the group, including his client, moved to Aisle Six "and the security man followed them throughout the store".
He said that the adult became upset by this and approached the store manager and relayed to him what he said earlier.
Mr Quinn said that the store manager denied saying it before another customer approached the manager to say: "I heard you say it." Mr Quinn said that the store manager "became irate and said that it was his word against theirs".
He said the store manager departed the scene and the security guard then said: "Whatever was said, it was him that said it - it wasn't said by me".
Mr Quinn said that his client "was very conscious that people were looking at them and upset that, if persons were to encounter them who had been in the store on the day, they would have a negative and false impression of her which she did nothing to create."
The statement of claim lodged on behalf of the teen states that she "suffered considerable distress, upset, hurt, humiliation, embarrassment and damage to her reputation".
Mr Quinn said that the girl is studying her Leaving Cert and hopes to study a third-level qualification in hairdressing and beauty therapy.
Mr Quinn said that his client "has never in her life been questioned by gardaí, or barred or ejected from shops".
Mr Quinn argued that "the pejorative and disparaging comment made by the manager indicates a reckless form of racial stereotyping due to my client's membership of the Traveller community".
Mr Quinn said that in these type of cases, reports show awards of damages are as little as €2,000 upwards to €15,000 - with the higher amounts containing elements of false imprisonment, coercion and interrogation that are not present in this case.
Mr Quinn said that his client's solicitor has not spoken to the woman who overheard the manager's comment at the store on the day and there is no guarantee that the woman would be available if the case went to hearing.
He said that Aldi had not yet offered a defence in the case.
Mr Quinn said that it would not be in his client's interests to reject the offer from Aldi.
Judge Keys said that, with all of the circumstances outlined, the teenager "would be foolish not to accept the offer".
He approved the award and also awarded legal costs to the teenager.