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A Chinese restaurant has been found guilty by a Canadian human rights tribunal of racial discrimination.
A human rights tribunal declared that the Hong Shing Chinese restaurant in the city's Chinatown had discriminated against black customers by making them pre-pay for their meal.
It was fined $10,000 (£5,700), the proceeds of which will go to Emile Wickham, the plaintiff, who filed the complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.
Wickham was celebrating his birthday with three black friends in 2014 when the incident happened. Speaking to the tribunal, he said he his group were the only black customers in the restaurant. They were told, he said, that it was 'policy' to pay before being served.
Though they paid, Wickham asked other customers if they had been asked to pay up front, discovering they had not. He was offered a refund after complaining, and left, filing his case shortly thereafter.
In its defence, the restaurant argued that it had recently implemented a policy of making non-regular customers pay up front to avoid people 'dining and dashing'.
The adjudicator found no evidence that other patrons were regulars or that the policy was official, and declared that Wickham had been treated as a 'thief in waiting' on the sole basis of his race.
As reported in the Vancouver Sun, the restaurant's claim to have implemented its upfront pay policy was disputed by Esi Codjoe, the adjudicator.
"I reject this argument for three reasons," Codjoe wrote. "First, there is no evidence that the policy even exists as the respondent did not call any witnesses.
"Second, the group was not advised of any policy on the night of the incident even when they asked why they were being treated differently. Third, there is no evidence that any of the other patrons were 'regulars'; the other patrons were surprised about the policy.
"His mere presence as a Black man in a restaurant was presumed to be sufficient evidence of his presumed propensity to engage in criminal behaviour."
In her ruling, Codjoe added: "The applicant says that on some level he [Wickham] felt that being dressed in a York University sweatshirt should have made them immune from an incident such as this. However, he has come to realise that no matter how well dressed or educated or spoken you may be you are still just seen as a 'n****r'."
In addition to its financial penalty, Hong Shing was ordered to post an Ontario Human Rights Commission Code card in a prominent position within the restaurant.
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