One racist slur not necessarily discrimination, B.C. Human Rights Tribunal rules

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that a racial slur hurled against a man by a coworker during a heated altercation did not constitute racial discrimination.

Tribunal member Tonie Beharrell stated in a 31-page decision dated March 3 that “it is not the purpose of the [Human Rights] Code or the Tribunal to sanction all ”˜bad behaviour’ which occurs between parties”.

Beharrell had established “on a balance of probabilities” that complainant Surinder Banwait was called a “fucking Hindu” by respondent James Forsyth. The respondent “vehemently” denied using the slur.

The judge stated that in some cases, one comment or incident would be sufficient to constitute a case of discrimination.

But in the particular complaint filed by Banwait, who is a Sikh and whose grandfather was an officer in the British Army, the slur was “made in the context of an isolated work place incident which escalated due to the actions and reactions of both parties”.

“This does not, in any way, excuse Mr. Forsyth’s issuing a racial slur: that comment is degrading, insulting and unacceptable,” Beharrell stated in his decision.

The tribunal’s full decision is available on its website.