THE B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has decided to hear a complaint filed by Muslim cab driver Irfan Aziz alleging that he was discriminated against on the basis of his religion by one of his bosses, Surinder Singh Mann, and White Rock South Surrey Taxi Ltd. known as Pacific Cabs Limited.
But tribunal chairman Bernd Walter, while denying Pacific Cabs’ application to dismiss, noted in his decision: “I point out that because his complaint has not been dismissed at this preliminary stage, this should not be viewed by Mr. Aziz as predictive that he will be successful at a hearing.” He strongly urged the parties “to consider the tribunal’s settlement services to avoid a protracted hearing in this matter.”
According to the “Background” section of the decision, Aziz alleges that between January and February of 2012, Mann, who is also a director and vice-president of Pacific Cabs, refused to allow him to drive a particular vehicle because he is “a Muslim and [his] community can’t be trusted.” He made a similar allegation which he said happened in May 2012.
Aziz alleges that in March 2012, under similar circumstances, Mann pressured a taxi owner not to allow him to drive his vehicle, called him “musla slave” and a “piece of shit.” Aziz says he reported this to Pacific’s manager, but no action was taken. He alleges similar events occurred in December 2012. He alleges Mann tried to induce a vehicle owner to fire him. He also alleges Mann, in front of others, called him “Paki, musla.”
Aziz alleges that in January 2013, he gave Mann a box of sweets in celebration of the birth of his daughter. He alleges that Mann threw the gift away saying “I don’t like musla sweets.”
He alleges that on May 29, 2013, he decided to take some days off on medical advice. When he met Mann, the latter “threatened” or “tried to kill him” and brandished a needle, and he called the police.
Regarding the retaliation aspect of his complaint, Aziz alleges Mann and Pacific Cabs threatened him so that he would drop his complaint. He also alleges that Mann has been harassing witnesses to get him to withdraw it. Aziz identified a specific individual whom he alleges was harassed by Mann to obtain any evidence related to his case.
However, Mann denies making any discriminatory comments or threats to Aziz, and says the allegations are fabricated.
Mann and Pacific Cabs denied that Mann asked any owners to prevent Aziz from driving their vehicle and says Pacific’s manager never received any complaint from Aziz or his wife before May 28, 2013.
They say Aziz filed an R.C.M.P. complaint against Mann; and Aziz has refused to meet with Pacific to discuss his complaints.
They allege that Aziz is pursuing his complaint on order to secure regular employment.
They further deny any retaliatory conduct against Aziz, since he filed his complaint and submit that no one has asked or harassed Aziz to drop his complaint; there was no request to obtain evidence relating to the complaint from Aziz; and the allegations of retaliation are fabricated.
Full decision at:
(Reasons for Decision – Application to Dismiss: Section 27(1)(c) and (e))
2013 BCHRT 301