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Yukon couple settles discrimination complaint against Denny's restaurant

Two Yukoners have settled their human rights complaint with a Denny's restaurant in Vancouver. The couple believed they were singled out in an incident in 2017, because they are Indigenous.

Helaina Moses says she felt racially profiled when a server asked her to pay upfront for her food

Two Yukoners have settled their human rights complaint against a Denny's restaurant in Vancouver. The couple believed they were singled out at an incident in 2017, because they are Indigenous.

A member of the Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation in Yukon has settled a human rights complaint against a Denny's restaurant in Vancouver.

The complaint stems from an incident in November 2017 when Helaina Moses and Shane Hummel, who live in Mayo, stopped into the 24-hour Denny's on Davie Street after a night out in the city, looking for a late-night breakfast. 

When they sat down, they said the server asked them to pay for their food upfront.

"I got upset," Moses told CBC this week.

She said she checked with other customers, who she said had also been drinking. 

"We were the only ones who were Indigenous and we were the only ones who were asked to pay upfront," Moses said.

Helaina Moses and her boyfriend Shane Hummel went to Denny's on Davie Street in Vancouver early on a Saturday morning, after a night out. She says the restaurant asked them to pay before they ate. (Helaina Moses/Facebook)

Denny's ended up calling the police, citing a disturbance at the location. No one was arrested.

But Moses says she felt degraded and racially profiled, so she filed a complaint to the BC Human Rights Tribunal.

Moses's lawyer, Laura Track, said singling people out and treating them differently based on characteristics like race, disability and gender can be contrary to the B.C. Human Rights Code.

"If restaurants or other businesses are going to offer their services to the public, they have to offer them in a non-discriminatory way," she said.

Apology and anti-racism training

The complaint was scheduled to be heard by the BC Human Rights Tribunal in June. However, one week before it would be heard by the tribunal, Moses says Denny's lawyers reached out to settle the complaint.

"It was back and forth negotiations on a few things," said Moses. "We wanted anti-racism classes for the location to all their staff … a press release, and an apology."

The restaurant will also provide diversity and anti-racism training to its staff by the end of this year.- Legal aid society statement

According to a press release from the legal aid society that represented the couple, Denny's has agreed to provide "an apology letter expressing its regret for the incident."

"The restaurant will also provide diversity and anti-racism training to its staff by the end of this year," the statement from the Community Legal Assistance Society's Human Rights Clinic said.

Moses says she is not allowed to disclose whether she received a financial payout from the restaurant chain.

In a statement to CBC, Denny's said it is "truly sorry" for the experience the pair had at the restaurant, and it is reaching out to apologize to them directly. 

"We are deeply saddened that they were made to feel discriminated against and were treated poorly. Their experience was not reflective of the expectations we have for our staff."

Clarifications

  • UPDATE: Denny's issued a statement two days after this story published. CBC has updated the story to include those comments.
    Jul 26, 2019 1:55 PM CT

With files from Ashley Moliere

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