herald

Thursday 13 December 2018

Family's not so hunky dory cinema trip as gardai called in seat row

Family went to Finding Dory
Family went to Finding Dory

Gardai were called to a cinema screening of Finding Dory when it had to be abandoned after a family refused to move from premium recliner seats.

Details of the incident are recorded in an unsuccessful discrimination case subsequently taken against the cinema by the family who were asked to move to other front row seats.

The family claimed discrimination on the grounds of family status under the Equal Status Act as they were not provided with accommodation for a child's buggy.

However, Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) adjudication officer Pat Brady dismissed the claim as "vexatious and without any merit whatsoever".

The family had gone to the cinema on November 13, 2016, to see the hit Disney film.

They bought standard "mini morning" tickets and were told they could sit anywhere they wished as there were only four other people in the cinema.

However, the family sat in premium recliner seats in the front row, which were each €5 dearer.

Abusive

In his report, Mr Brady said: "It is hard to blame the family for sitting in them, but it is harder to believe that they really believed that the rather generalised advice that they could 'sit anywhere' included these seats. Perhaps they did."

The family was asked by an attendant to move to other seats along the front row or pay an additional €5 each, but they refused to move and the screening was halted.

According to a cinema representative, the father "became loud and abusive and demanded a refund, including for part-consumed food".

The other cinema-goers were taken to a different screen to watch the film, but the loud and abusive behaviour continued and gardai were called.

The mother said the family left the cinema "feeling embarrassment and humiliation".

The cinema said there was no discriminating treatment and that the reason the family was asked to move was because they had bought the wrong tickets.

Mr Brady said it was "extraordinary" that the family refused to move "and proceeded to cause something of a fracas".

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