UPS shutters pickup location after alleged racist incident

UPS has shut down one of its Gatineau pickup locations after a woman complained an employee there made a "racist" remark toward her.

Video shows tense confrontation between employee, customer at Gatineau store

Katrice Bent says an employee made a racist remark toward her when she returned to pick up a package following an earlier confrontation on Jan. 3. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

UPS has shut down one of its Gatineau pickup locations after a woman complained an employee there made a "racist" remark toward her.

The decision to close the depot, located inside the Animalerie Nutri-Pro Le Plateau pet store on rue de l'Atmosphè​re, was made Friday, a company spokesperson confirmed by email.

"We can confirm that after an investigation into the incident, this location will no longer be part of our UPS Access Point network," wrote Murssal Akramy of UPS Canada.

The incident began on Jan. 3 when Katrice Bent, 19, went to the store to pick up a flower delivery. Bent was back home on a break from school in Toronto, and had just had surgery.

On her initial visit, Bent felt the pet store employee manning the UPS counter skipped her and began serving other customers in line. She complained, setting off an argument with the man, who eventually asked her to leave the store, Bent said.

UPS has shut down one of its Gatineau pickup locations after a woman complained an employee there made a "racist" remark toward her. The incident began on Jan. 3 when Katrice Bent, 19, went to the store to pick up a flower delivery. 0:45

'Did you just move here?'

Bent left without her package, but returned later that day. She said the same employee accused Bent of causing trouble, and at one point they both grappled for her package before the man placed it behind the counter out of her reach.

"He started asking me like really personal questions. He's like, 'Oh did you just move here?'" Bent said. 

I definitely didn't expect him to take it to a level that was racist.- Katrice Bent

Bent said the man began filming her on his cellphone, so she began filming him.

CBC has viewed Bent's video of the incident, but has not been able to verify her version of what preceded it.

On the video, the man is heard accusing Bent of causing trouble and acting like an "asshole," then saying: "I wish people like you didn't come to our countries." 

Woman 'shocked'

"I was honestly like, really shocked," Bent said. "I definitely didn't expect him to take it to a level that was racist."

The video then shows the man calling police, and Bent follows suit. Gatineau police confirm they responded to a disturbance call at the store that day, where they "ensured ... a peaceful transaction between the two parties," according to police spokesperson Patrick Kenney.

"Unfortunately the police cannot do much at this point because it needs to be accompanied by a criminal action for the police to be able to do a proper intervention," Kenney said.

The pet store refused an interview about the incident, but told CBC in a message there are two sides to the story.

UPS has decided to shut down the pickup location inside this Gatineau pet store following the incident. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

UPS reacts

Bent said she followed up with store management, but felt she was brushed off. She also complained to UPS and sent the company her video.

"UPS does not condone discrimination, and while those involved in this unfortunate situation are not employed by UPS, we will take appropriate action to ensure our customers receive excellent service," Akramy wrote.  

Bent, who did eventually get her flowers, said she's going public in part to encourage bystanders to speak up when they witness such incidents.

"If people were to step up and actually say something when they see something that they don't agree with … these things would happen a lot less."

About the Author

Krystalle Ramlakhan

Krystalle Ramlakhan is a multi-platform journalist with CBC Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I., Winnipeg and Iqaluit.