Man who said he was racially discriminated against by Eir store manager due to African accent loses claim
22nd August 2022
A man who claimed he was racially discriminated against by Eir during a phone call because of his African accent has failed in his complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission.
Deyma Ayoade, an international student at Dublin Business School, claimed to have contacted an Eir store on Monday, February 15, 2021, to ask about broadband for his home in Walkinstown, Dublin 12.
He said that the store manager at Eir in Crumlin told him the store did not sell wi-fi and told him that he was not to ring the number again, after which the call dropped.
He stated he was “gobsmacked” and that his returning calls were not answered, which showed an intent to treat him differently due to his race, as his accent was African.
Mr Ayoade claimed the person who picked up his call discriminated against him by refusing to provide the service, infringing on his fundamental human right to not be denied the service on account of his race.
Audrey Sexton, the store manager, stated she received a call at approximately 9.20am while carrying out various other duties. She said the call was of “horrendous and really poor quality” and that she was unable to make out much of the conversation.
Ms Sexton said that from the snippets of what she heard, she thought it was a sales call and that someone was trying to sell the store broadband.
Ms Sexton submitted that she repeatedly said she was unable to hear them properly and told them the line was too bad.
When the quality of the call got too bad, she hung up the phone and went back to her daily tasks. Ms Sexton said that if Mr Ayoade had left a voice message she would have called him back.
The respondent’s representative, financial controller Maria Burke, stated that Mr Ayoade had produced phone records but that some of the fonts were in a different format and not in order of date.
She said the purported evidence of calling the store did not show it was called three times on February 15, as claimed, and that the phone records did not have the Crumlin store number anywhere on the submitted document.
Ms Burke said Ms Sexton “is a loyal, honest and very trustworthy employee. In all her time working, she has served thousands of customers from different nationalities, disabilities and from different backgrounds and she never once has had one previous complaint against her”.
Ms Burke stated that, as Ms Sexton was a sales staff member, every sale she completed earned her extra commission and she would never turn down a broadband sale.
Ms Sexton had stated numerous times that the call was of poor quality and that she was unable to hear Mr Ayoade properly and could not have known any background of the person on the phone.
Mr Ayoade stated he was in college that Monday, February 15, and couldn’t call into the store, had moved into the area a few days previously after moving to Ireland three years ago and that he wasn’t used to voicemail.
In her decision, Adjudicating Officer Caroline Reidy wrote: “Mere speculation or assertions, unsupported by evidence, cannot be elevated to a factual basis upon which an inference of discrimination can be drawn.
“I find that no discrimination occurred in this case. The complainant called the store, the line was poor quality, there was no inference or indication of any discrimination in relation to the evidence presented, and the store manager who gave evidence for the respondent was very credible in that regard.”