Business Essentials for Professionals


Irish Bank Refuses To Open Account For A Syrian Refugee, Fined

Irish Bank Refuses To Open Account For A Syrian Refugee, Fined
A bank in Ireland has been ordered to pay €4,000 as compensation – albeit a small amount, to a Syrian refugee for the bank refusing to allow the refugee to open a bank account with the bank because of his nationality.
Following the refusal, a case was filed with the help of Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) following which the ruling was made by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). A programme to protect refugees displaced by the conflict in Syria had brought the man into Ireland. The man had tried to open a bank account in 2017 after he managed to find a job.
But when the man presented his refugee travel document, his application was refused by a member of the bank’s staff and was told: "We don’t open bank accounts for Syrians at the moment." After filing a complaint with the concerned bank, the man and filed case with the WRC according to the regulations of the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2015.
The bank however backed down and said that it refugee travel documents as proof of identity had been and would always be accepted as proof of identity when it was called up for hearing by the WRC. The website of the bank had been updated to explicitly states that refugee travel documents is accepted as proof of identity by the bank, after it became aware of the incident, the bank said.
Two front line staff members of the bank "appeared to be oblivious to any policy that may have been in place to cover such a situation" on the date when the incident took place, the WRC found in its adjudication.
The WRC adjudicator said: "This reflects on the [bank] and is I believe the complaint being presented… and not the fact that a front-line member of staff made a mistake."
The adjudicator said that the argument of the man that an explicit policy of direct discrimination based on nationality were to be present with service provider, such as the bank, it was the extensive duty of the bank to ensure that such a policy was carefully applied to avoid this kind of situation, was very agreeable. .
The WRC ordered the bank to pay compensation of €4,000 to the man.
The IHREC, which had helped the man because of its statutory powers, welcomed the decision. The agency noted that this was not an isolated case. The WRC has asked both the IHREC and the bank to report back in the issue after the next six months.
"Financial institutions need to ensure that customers are protected from any form of discrimination by putting in place appropriate training mechanisms and clear guidelines, and ensuring staff are aware of them," said IHREC chief commissioner Emily Logan.
"As a lawful resident of Ireland, this man had the right to open a bank account subject to the usual banking conditions, irrespective of his nationality. The commission welcomes this outcome from the WRC following our legal support for his case. We will be engaging with the bank over the next six months to ensure that appropriate actions are taken,” Logan said.

Christopher J. Mitchell

Markets | Companies | M&A | Innovation | People | Management | Lifestyle | World | Misc