Tribunal chair rules that Kanye West and Jay Z music in boutique doesn't violate B.C. human rights legislation

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      For many years, hip-hop artists have been accused of writing lyrics that cross the line.

      One such example is the Kanye West and Jay Z song "Ni--as in Paris", which the duo recorded for their 2011 album Watch the Throne.

      In November 2016 a Canadian woman of African ancestry heard their music, which was full of racial slurs, while in a dressing room in a Hollywood Boutique store in the Lower Mainland of B.C. 

      And when Breanne Redmond wasn't satisfied with the store's response to her concerns, she filed a complaint to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

      She alleged that she suffered discrimination in the provision of a service based on her colour race, and ancestry, contrary to the B.C. Human Rights Code.

      Redmond testified that she was in the final week of classes before exams, and she had trouble attending school because she was so upset by hearing the song and what happened afterward.

      On May 25, B.C. Human Rights Tribunal chair Diana Juricevic dismissed her complaint, concluding that it didn't meet the test of discrimination under provincial human rights legislation.

      That's because Juricevic concluded that the racial slur "occurred in the context of a song on an Apple music playlist", it was brief, and the responses of the assistant manager and manager were reasonable under the circumstances.

      Juricevic also wrote in her ruling that "not every negative comment or single incident that is connected to a prohibited characteristic will be discriminatory harassment contrary to the Code".

      "The context is significant," she wrote.

      Details disclosed in decision

      When Redmond initially complained, the assistant manager said she was busy operating the cash register and she couldn't go into the back of the store and change the Apple playlist.

      Redmond then asked to speak to the manager, who wasn't in the store that day. The assistant manager gave her the card of her manager Diana Guan.

      After Redmond contacted the property manager of the mall, Guan called her.

      Guan testified that she apologized and later changed the playlist. She also claimed that Redmond hung up on her in the middle of the conversation.

      Redmond, on the other hand, initially stated that Guan acknowledged her complaint but did not apologize or admit any wrongdoing.

      Later, Redmond described Guan giving her a "false apology", according to the ruling. 

      "I find that Ms. Guan and Ms. Redmond were sincere in their recollection of this phone conversation," Juricevic wrote. "I attribute their different recollections to the passage of time, their frustration, and their genuine belief that the other side was being unreasonable."

      Juricevic declined to award costs to Hollywood Boutique.

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