Shop customer who refused to wear a mask loses two discrimination claims at WRC

Anthony Lyttle complained to the WRC that he was discriminated against by Buy Wise Discount Stores Costcutter, North Strand.

He had been refused entry to the shop on account of his refusal to wear a face mask in January 2021.

Lyttle claimed when speaking to the manager of the shop that he had an exemption on the grounds of “reasonable excuse” and did not need evidence of this. He returned to the shop sometime later to speak to the owner and was again refused entry.

He submitted two complaints to the WRC that he was treated less favourably than another person in a comparable situation and this was on account of his claimed disability.

The shop owner’s defence was that they were enforcing the regulations and rules concerning the wearing of face masks in shops.

WRC decision

The Adjudication Officer had to determine if Lyttle was discriminated against on account of his claimed disability. She referred in the first instance to the burden of proof on the complainant in this case.

In short, he had to first prove facts from which a reasonable infere3nce of discrimination can be found. However, she would have to first ascertain if Lyttle was a person with a disability.

When questioned about this at the hearing Lyttle claimed that he suffered from claustrophobia and covering his face triggered this condition.

Lyttle’s problem, however, is he had no medical evidence to support this claim. He admitted he had not spoken to a medical practitioner about the issue for approximately 20 years.

The adjudicati0on officer also had to satisfy herself that the respondent shop was aware of the disability. But the evidence at the WRC hearing was that he had not told the shop of his disability as he did not believe he was obliged to.

Not surprisingly the Adjudication Officer found that there was no discrimination as Lyttle had failed to provide any evidence that he was treated less favourably on the grounds of disability. Or that the shopkeeper had failed to make reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability.

You can read the full decision in this case of Anthony Lyttle and Buy Wise Discount Stores Costcutter, North Strand here.


If you want to bring a claim for discrimination that has a prospect of success you will need to prove you have a prima facie case in the first instance. Simply making assertions that you have been discriminated against or making a statement that you have a disability with no supporting evidence is not enough.

In this case, funnily enough, the complainant did not even tell the shopkeeper what his claimed disability was as he did not believe that he had to provide any reason other than to state that he had a reasonable excuse for not wearing a mask.

You must prove your case. You can make statements on social media platforms or elsewhere but if you go to the Workplace Relations Commission or Court you cannot rely on mere assertions.