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Montréal, November 14, 2018 — An English-speaking Black man in his 50s will take The Bay to the Human Rights Commission for having detained and interrogated him after he applied for a Hudson Bay credit card.

The downtown department store staff then called the police after suspecting his identification was fake when filling out the required credit card form.

The incident occurred on September 16, 2018 when Michael Bryan went with a friend to look at some watches on the ground floor of the store. Both men were approached by two sales associates, who told Bryan of a promotion where he could receive an additional 15% off his purchase if he signed up for an HBC credit card. Bryan accepted the offer and received an application form to fill out. He then gave his driver's license to the sales clerk for identification.

The clerk took his driver's license and went to see a female manager nearby. After suspiciously glancing at Bryan, the manager and the clerk walked into a back room.

A few minutes later, two males in plain clothes, one Asian and the other, White, approached Bryan and his friend. They aggressively asked Bryan to follow them into the elevator to go to the fourth floor, where they placed him in a closed room, interrogated him, and accused him of using a fake driver's license to commit credit card fraud. The police were called and upon their arrival, the officers released Bryan after checking his ID and finding it authentic. Bryan was detained for almost 2 hours.

The next day, both men returned to the store and asked to speak to the general manager, who said he would look into the matter. Two days later, the general manager called Bryan to indicate that The Bay would offer him a watch of his choice, as compensation.

Testing the store's earnestness, Bryan and his friend emailed him to suggest that the store should offer a watch to himself and one to his friend. The general manager replied by offering to Bryan a $300 gift card, which he has not received.

Bryan experienced a deep loss of self-esteem, stress and humiliation afterwards, for having been detained in front of other shoppers and aggressively accused by the store's security guards of fraud.

CRARR will file a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission, against The Bay, the store manager and the security guards. The complaint will ask for damages and an investigation into The Bay's check and detention practice which may involve systemic racial profiling against Black shoppers.

In addition, CRARR will help Bryan file a complaint against the guards with the Bureau de la sécurité privée, a provincial agency set up under the Quebec Private Security Act. The Regulation respecting Standards of Conduct of Agent Licence Holders on a Private Security Agency explicitly prohibits discrimination and abuse of authority.

“We often speak of racial profiling when police officers are involved, but it also happens in commercial services and stores,” said Alain Babineau, a law student and a retired RCMP officer.

“Because of the role they play and their increased presence everywhere, private security guards are persons in authority whose conduct needs to be more and more scrutinized in light of human rights legislation,” Babineau added.

CRARR is presently handling other cases of consumer racial profiling. These include that of a Black female shopper who was arrested and handcuffed by the police after being wrongly linked with a Black male suspect at The Brick store in the West Island; a Black bank customer who was accused by National Bank of stealing a bank stamp and forced by four security guards to leave his workplace to go back to the branch for investigation; a Black mother and her teenage son who were accused and detained over suspicion of shoplifting at a Super C store; and a Black mother and her adult daughter who were expelled and banned from a Salvation Army store for no reason.