Clinic Must Pay Out $3,000 for Discriminating Against Maskless Patient
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A clinic in Ireland has been ordered to pay a patient over $3,000 after it was found to have discriminated against him due to him being unable to wear a mask.

Ireland’s Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has found in favour of a patient in the case of alleged discrimination, during which an unnamed clinic refused to provide a procedure to an individual over his inability to wear a mask.

The incident is said to have occurred during a period of so-called ‘Level 3’ lockdown in Ireland, during which there remained in place significant restrictions on religious services, such as Sunday masses, weddings, and funerals.

According to a post detailing the ruling on the WRC’s website, the patient — who has been diagnosed with autism since birth — was referred by his doctor to the clinic for an ultrasound.

Due to his condition, the man is unable to wear a mask, a detail he went over when organising the appointment with the clinic in question.

However, despite initially receiving assurances from the clinic that his inability to wear a mask would not be a problem, he was subsequently refused the procedure on the day due to said inability — a fact that the patient alleged constituted discrimination under Section 25 of Ireland’s Equal Status Act of 2000.

Ruling on the case, WRC Adjudication Officer Thomas O’Driscoll agreed with the patient’s view of the series of events.

“I find that the Respondent engaged in prohibited conduct under the Equal Status Acts 2000, as amended,” O’Driscoll explained in his ruling.

“The Respondent, in effect, admitted its failure to reasonably accommodate the Complainant in the manner described, and whereas it proffered a valid excuse with regard to miscommunication of policy, the plain fact of the matter was that there was no attempt to facilitate the Complainant despite the Respondent having full knowledge of the nature of the Complainant’s disability,” he wrote.

“Significantly, the Complainant had actively sought reasonable accommodation from first contact with the Respondent,” he went on to say. “No evidence was given that any kind of consultation or analysis of alternatives to mask wearing was taken, despite the Complainant’s clear request to be accommodated.”

O’Driscoll directed the clinic to make a payment of €3,000 (~$3,060) to the patient.

While having largely relaxed its anti-COVID measures for now, Ireland at many points throughout the last number of years had some of the harshest anti-COVID lockdown measures in place in Europe, with it being illegal to attend regular in-person religious services at many points throughout 2020 and 2021, for example.

To make matters worse, upon the introduction of a variety of COVID vaccinations to the country, the Irish government also implemented an extremely draconian COVID pass regime that outright banned individuals who had not been jabbed or could not prove that they had contracted the coronavirus in the past from a wide variety of public and private amenities.

While other European nations permitted unjabbed individuals to provide proof of a negative COVID test to travel, this was at no point sufficient to bypass the restrictions within Ireland.

Follow Peter Caddle on Twitter: @Peter_Caddle
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