Manitoba

Man denied entry into Winnipeg bar because of face tattoos likely not protected by law

A man who says he wasn't allowed to enter a Winnipeg bar because of his face tattoos likely doesn't have the law on his side, a lawyer says.

'I am a father. I work every day of the week. I am just trying to provide'

Craig Ginter says he was denied service at a Winnipeg bar because of his face tattoos. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

A man who says he wasn't allowed to enter a Winnipeg bar because of his face tattoos likely doesn't have the law on his side, a lawyer says.

Craig Ginter said he was trying to grab food with friends after work last Friday, when a bouncer at the door of the bar told him he couldn't come in, even though he had visited the bar before.

"He said there has been a sign up for three years saying there [are] no face tattoos allowed," said Ginter, who works at a tattoo parlour.

"If that's what they think … that if I have face heavily tattooed that it makes me a bad person … well it doesn't. I am a father. I work every day of the week. I am just trying to provide."

Craig Ginter says he was shocked when confronted by a bouncer:

Craig Ginter was just trying to grab food with friends after work last Friday, when he was turned away from a bar he has been to before, because of his face tattoos. 1:00

Lawyer William Gardner, who heads the labour and employment department at Pitblado LLP, says the Manitoba Human Rights Code governs cases like Ginter's. He said the code prohibits discrimination on a variety of grounds, including race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. Those grounds do not include having tattoos on one's face.

"Not directly, that's for sure," Gardner said. "If there is some connection of the facial tattoos to, say, religion, political belief, nationality, there might be a complaint.

"But on the surface, facial tattoos or physical appearance is not a prohibited ground."

Tattoo artist Craig Ginter says his facial art doesn't have any specific religious or cultural meaning, which likely means they do not constitute prohibited grounds for discrimination. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Ginter said his tattoos are simply art with no other meaning or association.

He posted about his experience on Facebook and the post has more than 100 likes, with many commenters expressing outrage over his treatment.

Jasmine Cabral, a co-worker of Ginter's who has visited the bar in question with him before, said it was idiotic that he was prevented from entering.

"Everybody is different. Not everybody is the same. To deny somebody access somewhere because of the art they have on their skin is obnoxious," said Cabral. "It doesn't have anything to do with gang activity or anything. It is literally just art."

Jordan Costello knows what it feels like to be treated differently because of a tattoo. The Osborne Village tattoo artist used to have one in the shape of a maple leaf on his face, but made the decision to remove it.

"I held a door open for an old lady and she was just surprised because she thought I was a punk. So daily any kind of task was pretty hard," he said.

Costello said he does not give his customers face tattoos because of his experience with them.

"Some people thought I was a gang member [or that] I didn't have money," he said. "It was awful."

Ginter said he does not have any plans to formally challenge the bar, but feels nobody should be denied service because of something as simple as a tattoo.

"It's 2018 … like, really people?"

A man who says he wasn't allowed to enter a Winnipeg bar because of his face tattoos likely doesn't have the law on his side, a lawyer says. 2:00

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.