Restaurant in Toronto Must Pay $10,000 for Racial Profiling

A popular restaurant in Toronto was fined $10,000 by the Human Rights Tribunal of Toronto for racial profiling that was determined to be in violation of the human rights code of Ontario.

The Tribunal ordered that Hong Shing Chinese Restaurant located in Toronto’s Chinatown pay Emile Wickham, who is 31, the $10,000. Wickham, who is black, was asked by the restaurant to pay for his food upfront and subsequently filed a complaint that alleged racial discrimination.

Wickham and three others, who are black as well, went to the restaurant in May of 2014 for a birthday celebration. Their waiter explained to them that the policy of the restaurant was to pay for their food prior to being served.

Wickham then questioned other patrons at the restaurant if they were required to prepay for their food as well, and he found that no one but he and his friends were asked to pay upfront.

The tribunal’s report, which was issued on April 18, confirmed that the four were the only blacks in the restaurant.

No representative or employee from the restaurant attended the hearing at the tribunal, but the report said the restaurant sent a statement that said a transient crowd is attracted to the restaurant and there were worries that diners might walk out without paying for their food.

In its statement, the restaurant indicated that asking customers to pay upfront for their food was their way of ensuring that the customer whom employees at the restaurant did not recognize paid their food.

However, the report that Esi Codjoe, the tribunal’s vice chairperson filed, stated that one of the three friends of Wickham said that he had eaten at the restaurant 15 time or more. When the four had gone to the restaurant in 2014 they were students attending York University.

Hong Shing did not comment when asked to, but employees at the restaurant said they were not familiar with that incident and said that ownership had changed since that occurred.

Codjoe said Wickham had been treated by the restaurant like a thief in waiting and had violated a city code that ensures there is equal treatment for all, at the time of seeking services of any kind.

The report added that the mere presence of Wickham in the restaurant was presumably sufficient evidence, due to his being black, of a propensity to take part in criminal behavior.

In his Twitter account Wickham posted that he was more grateful to be heard and believed than he was happy about the Tribunal’s decision.