Complaints overwhelm human rights watchdog (Toronto Star):
Ontario’s newly streamlined human rights watchdog is swamped with allegations of sex, race and disability discrimination, the Star has found.
Tribunal decisions show that women, minorities and the disabled are most vulnerable to discrimination by employers, landlords and businesses. In some cases both the victim and the defendant belong to racial minorities but are from different backgrounds.
One complaint example is of a Chinese doughnut shop owner blatantly expressing her hatred of “Turkish” people and calling a customer a “gypsy”. Another is of a company policy banning three Muslim women from speaking French (which happens to be one of the official languages of our country), as well banning the microwaving of foods that fit the criteria of “You don’t know until you smell.”
• A black couple received $5,000 and a letter of apology after they were ignored at a restaurant they had gone to as part of a corporate training session.
After arriving, the couple were asked several times by restaurant staff if they were aware they were standing in a private function area. The couple twice showed them their tickets – and finally propped the tickets on their table.
The waitress ignored them but served drinks to all the white people at the table. Finally, a white person had to order drinks for them. Later, the manager tried to apologize for his staff’s behaviour, saying the black couple was dressed better than the rest of the group and suggesting the woman looked like she could be a “lady of the night.”
At the end of the evening, the manager stopped the couple at the elevators and tried to give them some souvenir boxes, which he said would be good for storing drugs. They told him they didn’t use drugs. The manager insisted they take the boxes.
The anecdotes are fascinating and show the complexity of kyriarchal discrimination in a multi-racial, multi-ethnic society where oppressions intersect.
The mental image of one complaint is secured in my long-term memory, in which at a Chrysler dealership, a male, heterosexual Chrysler salesman “stood in the room wearing nothing but cowboy boots, brandishing two hair dryers as if they were guns, thrusting his pelvis” at another heterosexual salesman.
Read the collection of stories here: Complaints overwhelm human rights watchdog (Toronto Star)