Indian restaurant ordered to pay €3,000 over refusal to serve Indian customer

Ravi Shukla said he never received notification to appear at WRC and will appeal ruling

 Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

An Indian restaurant in Dublin 4 has been ordered to pay a customer €3,000 over the owner’s refusal to serve the man food – because he was Indian.

In the discrimination case before the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), Marie Flynn has ordered Ravi’s Kitchen at Pembroke Road in Dublin 4 pay Mayank Bhatnagar €3,000 to compensate him for the distress caused to him over the refusal of service.

Ms Flynn stated that in making the award under the Equal Status Act she was taking account of the embarrassment that was caused to Mr Bhatnagar when he was refused service in front of two subordinate colleagues.

In his evidence, Mr Bhatnagar told the WRC that he is Indian and alleged that he was refused service on the grounds of race.

Mr Bhatnagar stated that he attended Ravi’s Kitchen on July 10th, 2018 with two colleagues for lunch at approximately 12.30pm and that they were shown to a table by a female waiter.

Mr Bhatnagar stated that when the proprietor was handing out the menus, he asked him if it would take long as they had limited time for lunch. Mr Bhatnagar alleged that without answering his question, the owner asked him if he was Indian.

Mr Bhatnagar stated that when he said that he was, the restaurant owner said that he doesn’t serve Indians and Mr Bhatnagar had to leave.

He stated that when he asked the restaurant owner why he had to leave, the owner began to shout out loud about how his family had suffered.

Mr Bhatnagar stated that himself and his colleagues got up to leave and the restaurant owner continued to shout and the female waiter also started shouting in their direction.

Neither the restaurant owner nor any representative from Ravi’s Kitchen attended the WRC hearing and Ms Flynn stated that she was satisfied “that the respondent was properly on notice of the time, date and location of the adjudication hearing”.

However, in an interview, owner of the restaurant, Ravi Shukla said on Tuesday that he didn’t attend the WRC hearing because he never received notification to appear.

Mr Shukla said that it is his intention to appeal the ruling “and fight against this each and every step”.

Mr Shukla said that he is from India himself and has never refused a customer service on the basis on their nationality.

Giving a different version of the exchange with Mr Bhatnagar, Mr Shukla denied that he didn’t serve Mr Bhatnagar because he was Indian.

A native of northern India, Mr Shukla claimed: “I refused to serve him because he was unhappy with how long the lunch would take and he wanted a buffet and we didn’t have a buffet.”

Mr Shukla said: “It is a very one-sided ruling. I have lots of Indian customers and I have never refused them service because they are from India.”

Mr Shukla said that he was disappointed with the ruling “because I didn’t get a chance to speak”.

He said: “I have worked across the world for 35 years and I have an impeccable record as always living on the right side of the law. I am a hardworking businessman.”

In her findings, Ms Flynn stated that Mr Bhatnagar was accompanied by two subordinate colleagues who are not of Indian origin and they were not refused service by the restaurant owner.

Ms Flynn stated that based on the uncontested evidence of Mr Bhatnagar, “I am satisfied that he has established that he was treated less favourably than a person who was not Indian would be treated in a comparable situation”.

She stated: “I find therefore that the complainant has established a prima facie case of discriminatory treatment on the race ground.

Ms Flynn added: “Once the complainant has established a prima facie case, the burden of proof then shifts to the respondent.

She stated that due to the non-attendance of the restaurant owner at the adjudication hearing, no contrary case was presented.

Ms Flynn concluded that based on the uncontested evidence of Mr Bhatnagar, she found that he was discriminated against on the race ground contrary to the Equal Status Acts.