A Montreal man is taking the Hudson’s Bay Company to the Quebec Human Rights Commission over an incident that took place at the store’s downtown location in September.
It all started when the store’s security guards were called to intervene over what was believed to be fake identification. It ended with the 52-year-old being detained and interrogated for close to two hours.
“This is racial profiling at the highest level and I don’t deserve this,” Michael Bryan said while holding up his driver’s licence during a news conference.
According to his friend and former military officer who was with him that day, both were shopping for a watch when a sales clerk suggested they apply for The Bay’s credit card. When Bryan handed over his driver’s licence, he says the clerk suspected it was fake and then called security.
“He was forcefully shoved into the elevator physically by the two security guards and brought into an interrogation room,” Probir “Chris” Gupta said.
The Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) is assisting Bryan with the case, and helping him file a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission against The Hudson’s Bay Company. Complaints will also be filed against the guards with the bureau de la securité privée, a provincial regulatory agency set up under the Quebec Private Security Act.
“People that have the authority to arrest and detain and search individuals must be held to account,” law student and former RCMP officer Alain Babineau said.
Bryan says he had chalked up the incident as a simple misunderstanding until his friends convinced him to take action.
“I was embarrassed, upset, I didn’t get violent or physical but it was a totally inappropriate two hours of my life,” he said.
The Hudson’s Bay Company denies racial profiling played a part and issued the following statement.
“We take these allegations seriously. The interaction with this individual was based on fraud prevention measures, and in no way was race a factor. We are committed to always delivering a positive customer experience in our stores.”