A hotel guest has failed in a discrimination claim against a resort on grounds of disability over its failure to have someone to help him when he struggled to get out of a swimming pool. The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) ruled that although the complainant, Donal Moran, came across as “an honest, straightforward gentleman”, the Four Seasons Hotel in Carlingford, Co Louth did not breach the Equal Status Act by discriminating against him during his stay in September last year.
Mr Moran, who was subsequently diagnosed with neuropathy in May this year, claimed he had been discriminated against on grounds of disability. He told the WRC that he was accommodated in a specially adapted room where he had previously stayed with his late wife. Mr Moran said he had found it difficult to get into the swimming pool on September 5th, 2022 and could only go into the kids’ pool up to his waist and no further. He recalled that he had to use the wall to steady himself and there was nobody there to help him. The WRC heard that he did not seek assistance from anyone and he had not informed anyone that he was going to the pool.
Mr Moran also accepted that he did not tell anyone in the hotel about the incident afterwards. Under cross-examination by a hotel representative, he admitted signing a check-in sheet at the reception in the leisure centre without reading it. The WRC heard that the sheet notified guests that they had to be able-bodied to use the swimming pool as there was no lifeguard on duty, while similar information was contained in a sign above the reception area.
Mr Moran also complained that he was moved to a different room when he decided to stay an extra night and he had to ask hotel staff for a stool to use the shower.
His daughter, Emer Moran, said she had gone looking for her father in the leisure centre and was informed by a lifeguard that he had appeared unsteady on his feet. Ms Moran said she panicked as she could not find him in the hotel. She told the WRC her father eventually came to her room and was “very down in himself”. She did not tell him about what the lifeguard had said as it might upset him.
A representative of the hotel said it was uncertain if Mr Moran had requested the specially adapted room because it was where he had previously stayed with his late wife or because he needed the room due to a disability.
The WRC heard the hotel was completely unaware of the incident in the swimming pool until it was notified of Mr Moran’s complaint to the WRC. The hotel pointed out that staff in its leisure centre do keep an eye on the swimming pool but also have other duties in the gym and changing rooms. In her ruling, WRC adjudication officer Niamh O’Carroll said Mr Moran accepted he did not tell anyone that he might need assistance getting in and out of the pool before his swim.
Ms O’Carroll noted that the complainant had no medically confirmed diagnosis of a disability at the time. She also observed that Mr Moran had provided no evidence to link the difficulties he faced in the swimming pool with his recent diagnosis of neuropathy.