Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montreal, June 27, 2013 --- A young black man has filed a civil rights complaint against a major downtown gym after being carded and asked to leave the premises for failing to show his membership card to a manager and seeing his confidential probation information disclosed without his consent.

The young man, M., serves as volunteer at another branch of the gym and a member of the downtown branch for more than two years. He is on probation as a result of a minor conflict with the law and reports regularly to his probation officer, whose office happens to be located in the same building as that of the gym. Since his involvement with the gym, he has maintained a good record overall.

Last March, M. went to the gym to work out. He checked his belongings, including his winter jacket, in his locker and then went to buy food at the café located in the general lobby and headed back into the members' area, after being buzzed in by gym staff at the front desk who knew him.

Suddenly, he was intercepted in an unwarranted manner by a white female manager who asked him, in an abrupt and hostile tone, to show his membership card. Surprised by the request and not knowing who she was, he told her that he had just been buzzed in by the front desk clerk and that he already had left his belongings in the locker room downstairs. She asked once again for his membership card and he repeated what he had said. As he was walking away, she pointed a finger at him and patronizingly ordered him to “come here!”

A security employee, who was nearby and saw the altercation, told the manager that M. was indeed a member. The manager bluntly told M. to leave the premises because she did not like his tone, and then ordered the security employee to “deal with him” after which she left. Offended by the manager’s conduct of publicly humiliating him, M. went to get his belongings and left.

A couple of days later, M. was informed of the incident by a supervisor at the other branch where he volunteered; this supervisor suspended him for three weeks.

M. was also contacted by his probation officer and told that the female manager and the same security employee came to talk to her about the incident. M. was disturbed by the fact that this manager knew about his probation status, which is strictly confidential. He was also shocked to know that the gym’s personnel met his probation officer about this particular incident. He was particularly bothered by the fact that despite the gym’s core values of dignity, courtesy and respect, none of the top managers to whom he communicated about this incident took the time to respond to his concerns.

Believing that his civil rights have been breached by the female manager in question, M. mandated the CRARR to file a complaint with the Quebec human rights commission, seeking an investigation into the very serious breach of confidential probation information and challenging the act of racial profiling to which he was subjected.

On his behalf, CRARR also seeks moral and punitive damages against the manager and the gym for civil rights infringements and attack on M.'s reputation and dignity. Finally, CRARR asks that the gym be ordered to adopt an internal policy on civil rights and antiracism, to conduct mandatory staff training, to erase all gym records of M.’s probation status and to issue him an official apology.