“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"

A Chinese restaurant in Toronto has been ordered to pay $10,000 for asking black customers to pay before their meal.

The Globe and Mail reports that a Chinese restaurant in Toronto has been ordered by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal to pay $10,000 to a black man for violating his rights.

Emile Wickham and three friends went to Hong Shing Chinese Restaurant in May 2014 when they were told to pay for their meals in full before receiving them. The server initially claimed it was restaurant policy.

Realising they were the only black customers in the restaurant at the time, Wickham and his party asked other diners if they had been asked to prepay for their meal, to which they said no.

When questioned again, the server admitted that Wickham and his friends were the only ones who were required to prepay. The group was given a refund.

Adjudicator Esi Codjoe said the restaurant staff was guilty of violating section 1 of the province’s human-rights code that guarantees equal treatment when accessing goods, services and facilities. She said the restaurant treated Mr. Wickham as “a potential thief in waiting.”

“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,” she wrote.

Hong Shing staff did not attend the tribunal hearing but submitted a response through a lawyer asying the restaurant “attracts something of a transient crowd” and dine and dashes were common, so they adopted a policy requiring customers whom staff did not recognize as regulars to prepay for their food.”

Codjoe rejected the explanation, saying no evidence existed of the policy.

“I feel a lot of Canadians feel like because they don’t say the N-word or they have that black colleague or they like to eat Jamaican food and know about roti and doubles, they think they’re not racist,” Mr. Wickham said.

“Before the camera on the cellphone became a popular thing…all we had was our word,” he said. “And us calling out how we were treated, our word wasn’t good enough, right?”

 

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