Friday, June 14, 2024

Gym goer told too old for student discount compensated

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A gym goer who was told she was too old to apply for a student discount on her membership has won €3,000 for ageist discrimination.

The award was made by the Workplace Relations Commission on foot of an Equal Status Act 2000 complaint by Margaret Fitzpatrick against West Wood Club CLG, which operates a number of gyms and swimming pools in Dublin.

Setting out her case to a hearing last November, Ms Fitzpatrick explained that she had been a member of her local gym for around 14 years when she became a full-time student in April 2023.

She said asked about switching to its student membership rate the following month and showed her student card for verification, but was told she was ineligible because she was “more than 25 years old”.

Ms Fitzpatrick said she served statutory notice on the company alleging discrimination in June that year but got no response back.

Denying the claim, West Wood’s solicitors, Peter Duff & Co, submitted the gym’s “full time student membership” was restricted to those aged under 25 and that it “did not discriminate against the claimant in a manner contrary to the provisions of the Equal Status Acts”.

“The respondent’s position is very straightforward and they would argue that the act allows for discrimination,” WRC adjudicator Jim Dolan noted.

In his decision, he told the parties he was applying the “hypothetical comparator” approach – and compared the position of the complainant against that of a full-time student under the age of 25.

“Both apply for student membership of the respondent’s gym. The complainant is asked to pay the full membership rate; the hypothetical comparator is charged a discounted student rate. This is discrimination on the grounds of the complainant’s age,” Mr Dolan wrote.

Ruling Ms Fitzpatrick’s complaint to be well-founded, he ordered the gym to pay her €3,000 in compensation.

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