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Toronto restaurant has to pay $10,000 Canadian dollars for racial discrimination against customers

The Hong Shing Chinese Restaurant in Toronto was ordered by the Ontario Human Rights to pay a black customer $10,000 Canadian dollars for allegedly racially discriminating against him and his friends.

The customer, Emile Wickham, came to dine on his 28th birthday on May 3, 2014, with three friends and they were the only black customers present in the restaurant. They were asked to prepay before they were served which took them by surprise.

The restaurant said that it was their policy to make customers prepay but on approaching neighboring tables Wickham realized none else had been asked to prepay. “There was frustration initially. And that frustration turned into a feeling of dejection and sadness,” he said.

Wickham, who is originally from Trinidad and Tobago, could not stop thinking about the incident as it disturbed him and the following year, he filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal.

The restaurant defended itself by stating that they asked the customers who weren’t “regulars” to prepay, according to the ruling. But adjudicator Esi Codjoe found no proof that such a policy existed and earlier this month, she ruled the restaurant had racially profiled the customers.

The restaurant expressed its concern over the situation and defended itself by saying management had changed since then. It refused to comment further and maintained that the current owner and staff were responsible and dedicated.

Since this is a sensitive issue, the matter is going to be considered minutely and the tribunal outcome is under appeal by legal representatives.

Wickham expressed his willingness to continue fighting his case if need be and said, “It happens in our daily life, work life, social activity.” Even though the average Canadian cannot be called a racist, but even if some percentage of the population faces discrimination and reports, it has to be given serious consideration.

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