A scuffle outside the Langley Shark Club at 20169 88 Ave. will cost the nightclub $30,000 following a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruling that the club refused to admit three Indo-Canadian customers because of their race.
A 55-page written decision by tribunal member Norman Trerise said while there was no evidence that anything explicitly racist was said during the Dec. 9, 2011 confrontation, the evidence supports the complaint by Manny Gill, his wife Manjit Gill and friend Surinderjit Rai and meets the legal test for discrimination.
Trerise heard from the Gills, Rai, Shark club manager Brent Chow and bouncers Andrew Schmah and Sean Bell over four days of hearings in April and May.
Rai and the Gills said they were denied entry to the nightclub to attend a graduation party for a relative on a night when it wasn’t crowded and the bouncers were letting Caucasians in.
During the argument, Rai used his cell phone to take a picture of bouncer Schmah who then grabbed Rai in a headlock, demanding Rai erase the photo.
Schmah later pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal assault, getting a year’s probation and an order to take anger management training.
Trerise said the claim by Schmah and the two other Shark Club employees that Rai and the Gills were “belligerent” and threatening was not credible, while the would-be patrons’ testimony was “consistent and believable.”
“I prefer their evidence of what occurred that evening to that of the Shark Club’s witnesses,” Trerise wrote.
The tribunal member noted Schmah first testified that he had no other criminal charges laid against him, then admitted under questioning that he in fact had a second assault charge laid against him some time after the December 2011 incident.
Trerise completely rejected Schmah’s claim that one person had threatened to get a gun, saying “I am unable to give any credence to Mr. Schmah’s evidence.”
The company was ordered to pay $10,000 each to the three complainants for “injury to dignity and self respect.”
In response to a Times query, the Shark Club’s head office issued a written statement on Monday, Aug. 19, saying the company was “disappointed” by the ruling and “is not discriminatory.”
Days before the incident, the Langley club “accepted a reservation for a large group with a clearly Indo-Canadian name,” the statement said.
“[Twenty] Indo-Canadians from this party were admitted without incident,” the statement went on to say, adding “the party was served without incident over an extended period of time [and] other Indo-Canadians were admitted throughout that evening without incident.”
The statement did not say whether the company was planning to appeal the ruling.