By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — An Azerbaijani student has made Irish legal history by becoming the first person to win a racial discrimination case after he was refused entry to a pub.
The Office of the Director of Equality Investigations said the Turk’s Head public house in Dublin had been ordered to pay Sajjad Sajjadi, euro 1,500 for “distress, humiliation and loss of amenity and other effects of discrimination suffered.”
Sajjadi claimed he had been refused admission by a pub doorman last Sept. 25 despite showing a student identity card stating he was 33 years old. He said the refusal was because of his race.
The pub’s management denied that it operated a discrimination policy. It claimed it was policy to only accept Garda age cards or passports as proof of identity.
Sajjadi said he was “happy” with the ODEI decision. He had been planning to attend a going-away party in the pub for friends. The pub had allowed him in on a number of previous occasions.
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An ODEI spokesman said it was investigating 80 other complaints of racial discrimination made since equality laws came into force in November 2000.
In his decision, an equality officer said that if there had been a genuine reason for believing Sajjadi was underage, or under the influence of alcohol, or that had caused trouble previously, the pub would have been within its rights to refuse admission provided other people were treated similarly.
Based on all the evidence before him, the officer concluded Sajjadi, on being identified as being of non-Irish extraction, was subjected to a tougher screening process than is normal at the pub, the ODEI said in a statement.
In deciding on the amount of compensation, the officer took into account that this appeared to have been a once-off incident and that the pub management appear to be genuine in its efforts to ensure that the premises are now run in a non-discriminatory manner.
Sajjadi, who has lived in Ireland for eight years, had been studying at the Bolton Street College of Technology.
Under equal-status legislation introduced in 2000, discrimination on nine grounds including race, was made illegal. The areas covered include employment, the provision of services and aspects of education.