Clinic must pay $3,000 for discriminating patient without mask


A clinic in Ireland has been ordered to pay a patient more than $3,000 after it was found he had discriminated against him because of his inability to wear a mask.

The Irish Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has ruled in favor of a patient in an alleged discrimination case, in which an anonymous clinic refused to provide a procedure to an individual due to his inability to wear a mask.

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

According to an article detailing the decision on the WRC 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 mentioned when arranging the appointment with the clinic in question.

However, although he initially received assurances from the clinic that his inability to wear a mask would not be a problem, he was later denied the procedure on the same day due to said inability – a fact which, according to the patient, constituted discrimination under section 25 of Ireland’s Equal Status Act 2000.

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

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

“The defendant, in effect, admitted his inability to reasonably accommodate the plaintiff in the manner described, and while he offered a valid excuse in respect of the miscommunication of the 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 the first contact with the Respondent,” it continued. “No evidence has been given that any consultation or analysis of alternatives to mask-wearing has been undertaken, despite the plaintiff’s clear request to be accommodated.”

O’Driscoll ordered 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 has at many times in recent years implemented some of the toughest anti-COVID lockdown measures in Europe, it is illegal to attend regular in-person church services at many points throughout 2020 and 2021, for example.

To make matters worse, when introducing a variety of COVID vaccines to the country, the Irish government also implemented an extremely draconian COVID pass regime which outright banned people who had not been bitten or who could not prove that they had contracted the coronavirus in the past from a wide variety of public and private equipment.

While other European countries have allowed unshaken people to provide proof of a negative COVID test to travel, this has at no time been enough to circumvent restrictions in Ireland.

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