A Toronto eatery tried to tell Emile Wickham it was standard operating procedure to ask for prepayment before his meal—but that didn't fly with Wickham, nor with the Canadian tribunal that ruled in his favor in April and awarded him $7,800. Per ABC News, Wickham and three friends, who are all black, arrived at Hong Shing Chinese Restaurant to celebrate his birthday on May 3, 2014. However, once they were seated, their server said they'd need to pay for their meal first, and when they questioned why, they were told it was restaurant policy. Wickham—who immigrated from Trinidad when he was 20 and says he's not used to racial profiling—was suspicious, however. After confirming with other patrons that they hadn't had to prepay, he confronted staff, who admitted his table was the only one asked to prepay, per Newsweek. They were offered and accepted a refund.
A year later Wickham filed his complaint with the Ontario tribunal, which ruled April 18 the restaurant treated him like a "potential thief in waiting." "At that moment it hurt to be black," the case's adjudicator wrote. In its response, the restaurant said it had experienced customers who "dine and dash" and so had started asking non-regulars to pay first. One of the men who was with Wickham, however, said he'd dined at Hong Shing about 20 times before the incident, the Washington Post notes. Hong Shing staff says the restaurant has since changed management; a business license search by the Globe & Mail shows the director as Colin Li, the son of the couple who opened the restaurant in 1997. Wickham, now 31, said on Twitter he's "grateful" for the tribunal's decision but "would trade [all] of this for the two hours of bonding taken away from us that night." Hong Shing says it will appeal. (Barney's had to pay up for racial profiling.)