Supermarket retailer ordered to pay €15,000 compensation to woman with intellectual disability

Supermarket Retailer Ordered To Pay €15,000 Compensation To Woman With Intellectual Disability
The retailer argued that “it is clear from the accounts of the manager and of the complainant herself that the complaint of discrimination on the basis of disability is completely unfounded”.
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Gordon Deegan

A supermarket retailer has been ordered to pay €15,000 compensation to a customer with an intellectual disability after a security man mistakenly identified the woman as a shop-lifter and stopped her from entering the supermarket.

In a ruling at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), Adjudicator, Shay Henry has found that the woman was denied service on the grounds of her disability and was discriminated against under the Equal Status Act by the un-named retailer.


In the incident, the woman was refused entry to the retailer’s supermarket on November 18th 2021.

A security guard approached her as she walked towards the entrance and said "you are not allowed in here". Later that day, the woman’s sister phoned a manager at the store and asked why she was refused entry.

The manager said that she had been caught shoplifting there on the last Sunday in February in 2021, and that she had been banned from there and all the other retailer’s stores since.

The woman’s sister was told members of the gardai were involved in the incident and that her sister had not paid for items from both the retailer’s store and another store in the same town.


The complainant’s sister told the hearing that this incident never happened and she then rang the Garda station and they had no record of any shoplifting incident involving her sister.

In his findings, Mr Henry stated that he accepted fully that the refusal to allow the woman entry to the store was based on mistaken identity. Mr Henry noted that the retailer’s admission of mistaken identity was not communicated to the woman until just before the hearing and that no apology was ever given to her by the retailer.

Mr Henry stated that in evidence the store Security Manager stated that he relied on the appearance of the complainant in reaching the conclusion that she was the person previously identified as a shoplifter.

Mr Henry stated that “however, he also confirmed that he was aware of the name of the actual shoplifter and that he did not ask the complainant her name”.


He said: “Had he done so the matter could have been resolved immediately without the distress caused to the complainant.  Due to her disability the complainant was unable to challenge his assumption on the day.”

In her efforts to obtain information about the incident, the woman’s sister again rang the retailer’s store and asked for the name of the arresting Garda, but the manager said he was not at liberty to provide this information.

The complainant’s sister wrote to the retailer and asked for written evidence of why her sister was refused entry and they told her to complete a data subject access request form, which she completed and returned on the 24th of January 2022. She received no reply.

The complainant’s sister then completed an Equal Status complaint form and sent it to management at the retailer’s stores and she received no reply. In its case, the retailer denied any liability or wrongdoing in respect of the incident complained of.


The retailer stated after the woman was refused entry on November 18th 2021. The retailer argued that at no time, did the complainant offer any explanation as to how this refusal of entry amounted to discrimination on the grounds of disability.

The retailer stated that “indeed, in the claimants own words, she was not allowed to enter the shop and was not given a reason at the time. As such, it is quite difficult to refute a claim of discrimination, where no tangible details of such discrimination are provided that can be countered”.

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The retailer argued that “it is clear from the accounts of the manager and of the complainant herself that the complaint of discrimination on the basis of disability is completely unfounded”.

The firm stated that the woman offers no explanation whatsoever as to why she was refused admission to the store only that she was.


The retailer argued: “Accordingly, there is nothing to suggest that the refusal of entry had anything to do with discrimination against the claimant. This was a case of mistaken identity and has nothing to do with the disability of the complainant.”

Mr Henry stated that as the complainant has an intellectual disability “I have decided to anonymise the parties”.

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