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Canadian restaurant found to have discriminated against black group

Posted at 10:06 PM, May 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-04 22:06:43-04

TORONTO, CANADA (CBC/CNN) - A Toronto man is speaking out after winning a human rights complaint against a restaurant.

He alleged the eatery discriminated by asking that his group to pre-pay for their food.

It was supposed to be a celebration. Emile Wickham and three black friends went\ to Hong Shing to celebrate his 28th birthday four years ago.

But when they ordered, they were asked to pre-pay. They were told it was a restaurant policy.

They asked other customers if they were also required to pre-pay, though, and they found out no one else had to do that.

So the group left.

"When we got outside, that's when the anger turned into sadness and dejection,” Wickham said. “This was a time for us to unwind, and the fact we couldn't do that in a city that really plays up its multiculturalism really said something. And I decided there that night, that I was going to stand up to this."

Wickham filed a human rights complaint, to which the restaurant said they had lots of people who dined and dashed.

But in a recent ruling, the adjudicator found the restaurant violated Wickham's right to equal treatment and awarded him 10,000 Canadian dollars ($7,777).

A victory, but Wickham wants the public to keep in mind it doesn’t erase what happened, or the daily discrimination he still faces.

"Even after today, ‘til the day I die, I'm still going to experience anti-black racism,” he said. “The most I could hope for is that persons really take a hard look in how they treat persons who don't look like them."

Advocates say the work shouldn’t have to fall on people like Wickham.

Roger love:

"Emile's case brings to the fore the issue of racial profiling in services,” said Roger Love, an attorney in Toronto who specializes in human rights work. “Members of the black community spend their hard earned dollars and it's simply not right and it needs to be addressed each and every that time it happens."

Tomee Sojourne, an expert in consumer-based racism, said the burden should fall in part to business and community leaders.

"We also need to look to our business leaders and communities to take on some of this work so they can do preventative as well as reactive measures," he said.

Representatives for Hong Shing said ownership has changed hands and nobody is familiar with the incident.

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