Indigenous couple asked to pay before eating settle complaint against B.C. Denny's
This Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017, photo shows a Denny's sign at one of the chain's restaurants in Hialeah, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Jeremiah Rodriguez, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Tuesday, July 23, 2019 11:05AM EDT
Two members of the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation, who said they were racially profiled by staff at a B.C. Denny’s restaurant, settled their human rights complaint with the chain.
According to lawyers for Helaina Moses and Shane Hummel, the pair visited a 24-hour Denny’s restaurant in Vancouver in November 2017.
The pair were visiting the city from the Yukon for the weekend and, before returning to their hotel after a Friday night out, stopped at the restaurant to eat. But they alleged staff asked them to pay before eating their meal.
"We weren't even human enough to get a glass of water,” she told Yukon radio station CKRW 96.1 at the time. “(An employee) just slapped the bill down on the table and he said you have to pay up front before we put your order in with the kitchen and me.”
Moses said she stood up and asked the other customers in the restaurant if they’d been asked to pay up front. She said the patrons hadn’t been asked pay before eating.
Moses said she was “very upset” and that they believed they had been singled out because they are indigenous, according to a statement from Community Legal Assistance Society’s Human Rights Clinic which represented the couple.
At the time, she told a Yukon radio station, “I just felt so singled out, and violated, and embarrassed and it just really hurt my feelings and I stepped out to cry and my boyfriend followed me out after.”
According to several media reports at the time, local police officers soon arrived saying they’d received a complaint claiming the pair had been armed with a knife. But Vancouver Police Department said they never found any weapons.
The pair then filed a complaint to the BC Human Rights Tribunal -- the province’s quasi-judicial human rights body which mediates and adjudicates human rights complaints.
The case was scheduled to be heard by the tribunal last month but, before the hearing, the pair and the restaurant chain agreed to settle the complaint.
In a statement, the lawyers for the couple didn’t specify if any money was given to Moses or Hummel. But as part of the settlement, Denny’s agreed to provide the pair with an apology letter and pledged to provide diversity training to staff by the end of this year.
“I’m happy that Denny’s staff will be getting anti-racism training” Moses said. “Education that helps people identify their biases and ensure they’re treating people fairly and equally could go a long way.”
She said her “hope is that nothing like this ever happens again.”
CTVNews.ca has reached out to Denny's for comment.