By TOM GODFREY
A former Toronto Police auxiliary officer has been awarded up to $20,000 for pain and suffering after he was found to be discriminated against by the Canada Border Services Agency that twice denied him a job as an inspector.
Levan Turner, who moved with his wife to B.C. in 1995, once helped with an arrest while working as an auxiliary cop in downtown Toronto. He also worked as a security guard.
Turner was twice refused full-time job openings with the CBSA even though he had been working with them for five years as a seasonal inspector in Victoria. He had good performance reviews and comments from his bosses.
He filed a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which was referred to the Tribunal for a hearing in 1993. Since then he had been falsely portrayed by a few former co-workers as lazy, untruthful and obese, the tribunal was told.
The Tribunal last week ended Turner’s 11-year bid for justice and agreed that he was discriminated against. It also awarded him compensation for damages and lost wages, in addition to interest accrued.
“He is ecstatic with the decision and is glad that it is all over,” Turner’s lawyer, David Yazbeck, told Share from Ottawa. “He is pleased with the outcome.”
Yazbeck said Turner has to return to court in September for a hearing that will decide the financial and other benefits he will receive.
“We are hoping that he is given the job that he twice applied for,” he said. “Mr. Turner always knew that he could do the work and was not lazy.”
Turner refused to comment and allowed Yazbeck to speak on his behalf.
The Toronto man always claimed that he was refused the job due to his size and colour of his skin. He was portrayed by CBSA managers as lazy and obese, according to the 141-page decision.
Turner said he loved Canada and wanted to serve his country.
“I truly believe, you know, being a Canadian citizen, that it’s important to, you know, protect your country,” he told the tribunal. “And that’s the reason why I wanted to be a Customs Inspector.”
Tribunal chair Wallace Craig said Turner was subjected to discriminatory treatment.
“Because of his age, race, and a perceived disability of obesity, he was subjected to discriminatory practices,” Craig said in his decision.
He accused the CBSA of the “discriminatory use of staffing practices in the two job competitions that resulted in Turner being deprived of employment opportunities.”
“I find that Respondent (CBSA) managers acted wilfully in denying the Complainant (Turner) an opportunity for employment. I will, in due course, after the remedy hearing, make order in compensation for their wilfulness,” Wallace wrote.
He said Turner was negatively stereotyped by one boss “as an obese, older black man, likely to be lazy and untruthful, and therefore unacceptable as a potential employee of the newly-established law-enforcement-oriented CBSA.”
Wallace wrote “our institutions, including the criminal justice system, reflect and perpetuate those negative stereotypes. Blacks are among the primary victims of that evil.”
“A significant segment of our community holds overtly racist views,” his decision said. “A much larger segment subconsciously operated on the basis of negative racial stereotypes.”
The CBSA refused to comment since the matter is before adjudication.