British holiday park Pontins has agreed to change its work practices after news broke of an internal memo that instructed staff to block bookings from a list of 40 Irish surnames branded as ‘undesirable guests.’
Pontins, which has six parks across England and Wales, had distributed a memo urging its staff to refuse bookings from a list of Irish surnames including Boyle, Delaney, Gallagher, Horan, MacLaughlin, McMahon, Murphy, Nolan, O’Brien, O’Connell, O’Donnell, O’Donoghue, O’Reilly and Ward.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) launched an investigation after being contacted by a whistleblower and found that by declining to provide its services to guests of a certain race or ethnic group, Pontins was “directly discriminating on the basis of race” and was therefore in breach of the 2010 Equality Act.
Alastair Pringle, executive director at EHRC, said: “It is hard not to draw comparisons with an ‘undesirable guests’ list and the signs displayed in hotel windows fifty years ago, explicitly barring Irish people and Black people.
“Banning people from services based on their race is discrimination and is unlawful. To say that such policies are outdated is an understatement.”
“It is right to challenge such practices and any business that believes this is acceptable should think again before they find themselves facing legal action.”
A spokesperson for Pontins owner Britannia Jinky Jersey said, “Britannia Jinky Jersey Limited has agreed to work together with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to further enhance its staff training and procedures in order to further promote equality throughout its business.”
The agreement requires Pontins to:
- Conduct an investigation into the ‘Undesirable guest’ list to ensure appropriate action is taken within the organisation and that lessons are learned;
- Commission a review of its current intelligence system, booking policies and commercial vehicle policy to ensure they are not operating in a discriminatory way, and consider any recommendations;
- Provide enhanced training on equality law for staff in its Human Resources team and members of Senior Management;
- Provide training on equality and diversity for all customer facing staff on an annual basis;
- Appoint Equality, Diversity and Inclusion champions across the organisation.