Restaurant fined for making black customers pay in advance for meals

Date: 
May, 2018
Country: 
Canada

A Chinese restaurant in Canada has been fined C$10,000 (£5,700) by a human rights tribunal for making black customers pay in advance for their meals. Staff 'motivated by a stereotype that black persons are criminal or deviant', says judgment.

Emile Wickham and three of his friends went to Hong Shing Chinese Restaurant in Toronto’s Chinatown for a birthday meal in May 2014.

After the waiter took their order, he told the group they would need to pay for them upfront, Mr Wickham told the tribunal.

When they questioned him, he said it was restaurant policy and the group paid for their meals.

But Mr Wickham became suspicious and asked the other diners in the restaurant, who were all white, whether they had prepaid for their food. They said they had not, the tribunal was told.

Mr Wickham then questioned the waiter about the policy and he admitted they were the only ones who had paid in advance.

He and another restaurant employee offered Mr Wickham and his friends a refund, which they accepted before leaving.

Soon after the incident, Mr Wickham filed a complaint with the human rights tribunal.

Responding to the official complaint, the restaurant said it had introduced a new policy for customers who were not regulars to prevent them from leaving without paying.

But adjudicator Esi Codjoe said there was no evidence the other customers in the restaurant were regulars.

She concluded that the actions of Hong Shing violated the first section of the province’s human rights code, which bans discrimination when providing a service. 

In her judgment she concluded the behaviour of the restaurant staff “suggests that their treatment of the applicant was motivated by a stereotype that black persons are criminal, or deviant".

Source: Independent