WRC orders hotel to compensate Traveller family over cancellation of communion

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has order a hotel to pay over €5,000 to a mother and her two young daughters for cancelling a Holy Communication party.

The family at the centre of the case were members of the Traveller community, and had booked a function room in a hotel for 40 people to celebrate the First Holy Communion of their two daughters.  

The hotel accepted the booking, however three days before the event, the mother received a call from the manager of the hotel to inform her that the function had been double-booked and they had to cancel. The family found a new venue at short notice, however it could not accommodate all the guests or the clown and DJ which had already been paid for.

The mother, represented by the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC), argued that her surname was quite common in the Traveller community in the Wicklow area and was easily identifiable. She presented evidence to the effect that there was a wealth of negative publicity surrounding her surname in the local newspapers at the time of the cancellation. Some of this negative publicity included reports that members of the Traveller community unlawfully parking their caravans in the carpark of the hotel.

It was the mother’s belief that the hotel made an unwarranted connection between her family and the family who were occupying the hotel car park and on that basis cancelled her booking. It was argued that the actions of the hotel were upsetting to all three complainants and in particular was a huge stress and inconvenience to the mother who had to find an alternative venue at such short notice.

The owner of the hotel stated that he would not allow any staff member to act in a discriminatory manner and that all are welcome to his premises. The owner was very apologetic about the situation, claiming that it was simply a mistake which came to light when the other party turned up to pay for the function in full.

Having regarded all the evidence before him, the WRC found that the hotel discriminated against all three complainants under the Equal Status Act. The decision stated that the evidence presented by the hotel “lacks a level of credibility” and thus, ordered the hotel to pay the mother of the children €3,000 and to give €1,000 each to the two Communion girls.

Click here for the decision.



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