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In May 2014, Emile Wickham reportedly walked into Hong Shing chinese restaurant in Toronto for a late night birthday dinner with his friends. After a server took their order, he then informed the group they would have to pay for their meals “before receiving them,” The Globe and Mail reports, according to Wickham’s testimony at an Aril tribunal hearing.

While the server claimed this was restaurant policy, Wickham soon found out otherwise. The site states, “Realizing he and his companions were the only black people in the restaurant, he approached other diners to ask if they’d been required to prepay and all said no. When the server later returned to the table, Mr. Wickham and his friends questioned him about the policy, and the server admitted they were the only ones who had prepaid. He and another staff member asked Mr. Wickham and his friends if they wanted a refund. The group took their money and left the restaurant.”

Ultimately, Hong Shing Chinese restaurant was found in violation of section 1 of the province’s human rights code, which “guarantees equal treatment when accessing goods, services and facilities.”

Adjudicator Esi Codjoe wrote in her decision, “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.” Hong Shing’s only excuse ended up being “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.” However, Codjoe said there was “no evidence such a policy existed, that the other patrons that night were regulars or that Mr. Wickham’s party was advised of this policy when they were at the restaurant”—and the restaurant was ordered to pay Mr. Wickham $10,000 for his troubles. Thoughts?

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