A credit union has been ordered to pay €7,500 in compensation to a man with a mental disability after it discriminated against him when not allowing him enter a car-draw.
In the case, Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudicator, Brian Dalton ordered Link Credit Union in County Cavan pay Matthew Reilly the €7,500 after finding that he was discriminated against on the grounds of his disability under the Equal Status Act.
Mr Dalton has also directed Link Credit Union allow Mr Reilly - subject to his mother, Martina's authorisation- participate in the car draw from now on.
The credit union told Mr Reilly in November 2018 following legal advice that it would be inappropriate for the credit union to take the €60 annual car draw payment from his account as Mr Reilly would not be able to use the car if he won it in the draw.
As Mr Reilly has a mental disability and cannot give informed consent, authority was delegated to his mother, Martina to act in his interests concerning his credit union account.
Martina Reilly has looked after her son's interests concerning his credit union account since he first opened one in 1993 as a minor.
Mrs Reilly alleged that her son was being discriminated against because of his disability and was being treated less favourably compared to others who have access to the car draw without any requirement to show that they can use a car.
The car draw is held every two months and in his findings, Mr Dalton found that it is not reasonable to treat Mr Reilly differently to other credit union members who have a different disability - or none - having regard to the fact that Mr Reilly’s best interests are protected through the agency of his mother.
Mr Dalton pointed out that Mr Reilly’s mother was approved by the credit union board to act on Matthew's behalf.
Mr Dalton stated that Mr Reilly is over 18 and previously participated in the draw.
The WRC Adjudicator stated that while the initial reason to disqualify Mr Reilly was based on his incapacity to drive, this was later expanded and contextualised within a broader regulatory framework and fiduciary duty.
Mr Dalton stated that if Mr Reilly was to win the car in the draw, he would benefit either from the enjoyment of being driven in the car or that the car could be sold and the proceeds used for his care - no different to any other member.
Mr Dalton stated that Mr Reilly’s mother, Martina was to make the €60 contribution to allow her son participate in the draw.
The draw is run on a non-profit basis and creates a pot of money that pays for the prizes. The draw is run as a service for members’ benefit.
The credit union mounted the defence to discrimination pointing out that Mr Reilly can’t give informed consent.
However, this was rejected by Mr Dalton who pointed out that Mr Reilly’s mother was approved by the credit union’s board to act on his behalf.
In his findings, Mr Dalton stated that the refusal of the credit union to do all that is reasonable to accommodate Mr Reilly constitutes discrimination.
Solicitor for the Reillys, Terry Gorry said, "We are pleased with the outcome as we obtained what we sought on behalf of our client."