Shark Club ordered to pay $30,000 after racial discrimination complaint

The Shark Club in Langley has been ordered to pay three Indo-Canadian people $10,000 each by a B.C. human-rights tribunal that found the nightclub barred them from entering because of their brown skin.

The three people in their 40s accused the popular Langley restaurant of discriminating against them by denying them entry for a birthday party in December 2011.

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In a 56-page ruling in which tribunal member Norman Trerise found “Shark Club witnesses have not been telling the truth,” he ordered the club to cease contravening B.C.’s human rights code, which prevents denying service to people based on their race, colour, ancestry or place of origin, among other reasons.

Trerise ordered Shark Club to pay each of the complainants $10,000 for injury to dignity and self-respect.

Serge Rai and Manjinder Gill and his wife, Manjit, told the tribunal they were denied entry to the club while other white patrons were allowed in.

Rai was assaulted by a bouncer that night after he took a photo of doorman Andrew Schmah. Schmah ordered Rai to erase it and then threw him to the ground. He pleaded guilty to assault in a separate court action.

Trerise found the three were denied entry and club staff “falsely stated” at the January hearing that they weren’t allowed in because they didn’t have proper identification.

Trerise said Schmah provided “no viable explanation” about why he wouldn’t let the three in that night.

“There must be some reasonable basis for determining that racial discrimination has taken place and the complainant bears the onus of proof to establish discrimination on a balance of probabilities,” he wrote.

“I must determine whether the complainants have met their onus,” Trerise said. “I conclude they have.”

He also rejected the testimony by Schmah and general manager Brent Chow, who also said the reason the three weren’t admitted was because the club was full.

“Mr. Schmah’s evidence has been found to be unreliable, as has Mr. Chow’s evidence,” Trerise wrote.

Trerise also noted the complainants asked other white club-goers if they had tickets or reservations and none did.

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