(WINDSOR, ON) – If you’re a customer of Dollarama at University Mall, get ready for a list of questions and a long wait before you are allowed entry. A number of complaints have reached The Square regarding an apparent discriminatory practice being employed at the discount store.
Students from Westview Freedom Academy Secondary School are being made to wait in line outside the store and are required to answer a battery of questions before being allowed in. The students appeared to be segregated from other customers entering the store and only after they go through the screening process are they allowed to enter.
This while Windsor experienced record low temperatures last week.
Some of the students do not speak English well, as they are refugees and new Canadians. A translator is not provided to these early learners of the English language so, if they cannot satisfy Dollarama’s line of questioning, they may not be permitted to enter the store.
The students, who are on their lunch hour from Westview, are also possibly returning late to school.
“The Dollarama on Tecumseh Rd. East deals with large groups of customers shopping together, in large part, due to nearby schools,” Dollarama spokesperson Lyla Radmanovich told The Square. “To deal with this large influx of customers, it at times controls the number of people in store at once. Having a manageable number of customers in-store helps employees provide better customer service, and eases their burden when it comes to ensuring in-store safety and security.”
Radmanovich went on to say that the policy is applied equally to all customers.
“Let me reiterate that this policy strictly addresses the number of people coming into the store at once, especially as a group,” she said. “We are confident that store management will continue to apply this tool without discrimination and with the utmost respect for all customers.”
The Square was told on Friday that a student attempted to photograph the line-up, but was confronted by two men claiming to be store security. The student claimed that she was, “threatened with a ban from the store” if she took pictures.
“Unfortunately, I do not have any information regarding this alleged event, all I can speak to is our crowd control policy and its application by our store,” said Radmanovich. “Any questions asked, are to ensure that individuals coming into the store are there to shop, again, to manage the number of people in the store at one time.”
Zahra Binbrek, a human rights lawyer with the Human Rights Legal Support Centre in Windsor, says any place offering goods and services who chooses to restrict a person from accessing their services can do so within reasonable limits of the law. However, she said that any policy outside of the law which discriminates based on age or ethnic origin could be a violation of Section 1 of the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Binbrek suggests that any student who feels they may have been discriminated against in this incident to contact the intake line of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre at 1-866-625-5179. There is a provincial mandate for such matters to be represented free of charge.
Queries by The Square to the Greater Essex County District School Board went unanswered. The Education Act mandates that, ”school boards are subject to the requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code. Under the Code and court decisions which have interpreted its provisions, boards must provide harassment-free work and learning environments. Furthermore, boards may be subject to legal sanctions if they do not deal appropriately with instances of harassment and discrimination.”
– with files from Ian Shalapata.