South African alleges white skin linked to lost real estate listing

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      A white realtor has complained that he was discriminated against by a black client.

      Richard Allenberg has alleged before the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal that Roger Johnson cancelled a real-estate listing with him because of Allenberg’s skin colour and place of origin.

      Allenberg is a white South African, and he claimed that Johnson “does not trust any white South Africans”.

      “Mr. Allenberg also quotes from the e-mail cancelling the listing, words to the effect that Mr. Johnson does not want to work with him and would not even have agreed to meet had he known Mr. Allenberg was South African,” tribunal chair Bernd Walter related in a July 10, 2014, ruling.

      In that ruling, Walter dismissed Johnson’s application for an extension of time to file an application to dismiss the complaint originally filed by Allenberg on November 18, 2013.

      Walter also wrote that Johnson filed a response to the complaint on December 12, 2013, “in which he identifies as a gay, multi-racial, black person and sets out a detailed account of the facts from his perspective”.

      “Mr. Johnson’s response contains statements that he ‘suspects Mr. Allenberg to be racially biased toward him’ and that he ‘is a racist white South African’,” the tribunal chair related.

      Walter continued: “Much of Mr. Johnson’s response concerns Mr. Allenberg’s business practices, which are of questionable relevance in the context of this complaint of discrimination. Mr. Johnson admits he told Mr. Allenberg that the fact he is white South African bothered him and made it impossible to trust him.”

      South Africa had a long history of racial segregation, finally abolishing apartheid in 1991.

      In the July 10 decision’s introduction, Walter noted that the tribunal had informed Johnson of the February 5, 2014, filing deadline for any application to dismiss. “No application to dismiss was filed by that date,” he wrote.

      In denying the application for an extension to apply for dismissal, Walter noted that Johnson’s explanation strikes him as a “combination of careless inattention and apparent ignorance of the process”.

      “He says he was too busy and in the throes of holiday preparations,” the tribunal chair noted about Johnson.

      Walter advised Allenberg and Johnson to “make every conceivable effort to resolve the complaint without the acrimony and, indeed, the expense of a protracted evidentiary hearing”.

      The tribunal has not yet ruled on the merits of any of the allegations contained in the complaint or response.

      The hearing is set for July 28 and 29, 2014, in Victoria.