Boots ordered to pay €700 to man after hydrogen peroxide purchase queried
Riadh Mahmoudi says he was seen as a suspicious because of the colour of his skin
WRC adjudication officer, Marian Duffy found Mr Mahmoudi was discriminated against on the grounds of race, as the EU regulations apply to hydrogen peroxide with concentrations levels of 12 per cent or more and the hydrogen peroxide Mr Mahmoudi was seeking to purchase had concentration levels of 6 per cent
Boots Retail (Ireland) has been ordered to pay €700 compensation to an Algerian Muslim man living here after it queried why he was purchasing a bottle of hydrogen peroxide.
In high concentrations, hydrogen peroxide can be used as an ingredient in explosives and Riadh Mahmoudi has successfully claimed at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) that he was discriminated against when questioned about the purchase of the product with a low concentration at an unnamed Boots store in Ireland.
Mr Mahmoudi said he was seen as a suspicious customer by Boots Ireland because of the colour of his skin and his beard – a claim denied by Boots Ireland.
Boots Ireland stated that it was bound by law and its own procedures to question Mr Mahmoudi as hydrogen peroxide is listed by the EU as an explosive precursor.
In her ruling, WRC adjudication officer, Marian Duffy found Mr Mahmoudi was discriminated against on the grounds of race as the EU regulations apply to hydrogen peroxide with concentrations levels of 12 per cent or more and the hydrogen peroxide Mr Mahmoudi was seeking to purchase had concentration levels of 6 per cent.
Ms Duffy said a guidance document from the Government’s Inspector of Explosives states EU regulations apply to all explosive precursors no matter the volume, but the document is not law.
She said: “Therefore, it was not necessary to ask the questions as it could not have been a suspicious transaction as defined in the regulations.”
Mr Mahmoudi said his wife wished to switch to natural cleaning products and asked him to purchase two bottles of vinegar, a bottle of distilled witch hazel, a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, a bottle of rubbing alcohol and bicarbonate of soda.
He said that when seeking the items at his local Boots store, a staff member asked him why he was purchasing hydrogen peroxide.
Mr Mahmoudi said he felt he was put on the spot and said he was using it for first aid and for other things such as cleaning.
The assistant spoke to another member of staff and Mr Mahmoudi said he felt uncomfortable and embarrassed about being questioned about an over-the-counter product that he used in his house.
Mr Mahmoudi said he was then told he required a prescription for the purchase – a claim denied by Boots.
The sales assistant told Mr Mahmoudi that they were out of stock but she could order it for him. Mr Mahmoudi said that he went to another pharmacy and purchased the hydrogen peroxide without any questions.
He also stated he asked an Irish friend to go to the same Boots to purchase the hydrogen peroxide the same day and he said his Irish friend was not asked why he required the product.
Boots claimed that the combination of products that Mr Mahmoudi was seeking to purchase was unusual, including the hydrogen peroxide.
Boots claimed Mr Mahmoudi appeared unfamiliar with the regular use of hydrogen peroxide and he appeared nervous and uneasy at the routine questioning put to him by the Boots employee in accordance with robust training.
Boots stated that for these reasons, the pharmacy assistant considered the transaction suspicious and refused the sale, referring the matter to the pharmacist.