A Halifax man who complained that a popular downtown bar had discriminated against him based on his colour has won a victory at the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.
Dino Gilpin — who is black and originally from Sierra Leone — went to the commission after he was refused service at the Halifax Alehouse on Feb. 20, 2010, when they wouldn't accept his Canadian citizenship card as a valid form of photo identification.
When staff at the bar asked Gilpin to leave, he refused and the manager called Halifax Regional Police to escort him out of the building. Gilpin was charged with public drunkenness and spent the night in jail.
Five months later, the court dismissed the charge.
In a decision dated June 13, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission ruled the decision to refuse to serve Gilpin was based on the bar's rigid ID policy, rather than his race.
But the commission also said the Halifax Alehouse broke the Human Rights Act when staff called the police, ruling that only racial discrimination could explain that action when Gilpin was simply drinking a glass of water.
"I find that the worst that can be said of Mr. Gilpin is that he overstayed, lingering over his water. I find that he was calm and behaved appropriately throughout," wrote J. Walter Thompson, the chair of the Board of Inquiry.
"I find that he did not become loud, rant and rave or cause a huge commotion. I find he showed no signs of intoxication and was not in fact intoxicated."
Thompson went on to say Gilpin was "publicly humiliated."
"The Alehouse, in their social relations with Mr. Gilpin, failed to accord Mr. Gilpin the respect due to him as a guest in their premises," he wrote.
"This failure of courtesy, this failure to accord Mr. Gilpin respect, concern and dignity, and the decision to humiliate him can only be understood, at least in part, as having been a function of Mr. Gilpin's colour."
Kendrick Douglas, Gilpin's lawyer, said his client is pleased with the decision.
"He thinks it's a fair decision, he feels quite vindicated," Douglas told CBC News on Friday.
"His justification came in the fact that the adjudicator acknowledged he was discriminated. It was not right, it was not fair, it was a blow to his dignity."
The Halifax Alehouse did not comment on the ruling.
Costs in the case have not been determined. Gilpin has also filed a lawsuit against the Alehouse and the Halifax Regional Police.