PEEL Regional Police Detective Sergeant Baljiwan (BJ) Sandhu has alleged in a discrimination case before Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal that he was denied the opportunity for promotion to inspector in 2013 because of his race.
But the force denies that, noting that two of the eight inspector promotions were given to “racialized minorities.”
But how does one define “racialized minorities”?
Now Sandhu’s lawyer Kelley Bryan has asked tribunal Vice Chair Kathleen Martin to get the Peel police’s definition of “racialized minorities.”
The hearing has been adjourned until Martin decides on Sandhu’s request for Peel police to provide the documents he’s seeking to help argue his case, the Toronto Star reported Monday.
Peel Regional Police is Ontario’s second largest municipal force that polices the cities of Brampton and Mississauga, where about 60 per cent of residents are “visible minorities” as defined by Statistics Canada.
Sandhu, who came to Canada in 1981, joined the Peel force in 1989 and was the first Punjabi officer in District 2 in the city of Brampton.
According to the Star, in his complaint filed in January 2014, Sandhu listed examples of alleged discrimination that he faced when he started his career. These included:
* During a basic training presentation on the operations of the service’s communications bureau, a speaker remarked that, in the future, outgoing police officers would be replaced by “women and Pakis.” Sandhu states that the rest of the recruit class looked at him, leaving him “hurt and embarrassed.”
* Officers mimicked his accent. “It reached the point where I felt like I was an ethnic punching bag, yet I soldiered on,” he says in his complaint.
* He once walked into a packed gym at police headquarters and someone shouted: “Hey, no one called a cab!” Sandhu says the room “erupted with laughter,” which he found distressing but “forced” himself to “laugh” to “endure” the “blatant racial slur.”
* In 2007, Sandhu says a senior officer remarked at a traffic accident scene that there should be no trouble sorting it out because those involved were not South Asians, who “lie all the time.”
Sandhu is seeking $1 million in damages, a promotion, a promise from the service that it will comply with the Ontario Human Rights Code, a review of promotion policies and extra training for officers.
THE Star reports that according to Sandhu’s complaint, two superiors refused to endorse his application for promotion and advised him to withdraw from the process rather than be rejected. When he refused, he received a “negative promotional assessment” that praised his work as an “ambassador” for police within the South Asian community and an “unwavering commitment to the diverse communities” but said he lacked the experience to be a “front line” supervisor.
The Police Chief informed Sandhu in a March 2013 letter that he would not be getting an interview for the jobs. He was offered a debrief, presumably about why he was turned down, he has so far not had one, according to his complaint.
He was later refused a transfer to a job that would give him more supervisory experience and filed a formal grievance against the Peel Police Services Board regarding its promotional process. He was advised that until his grievance was concluded, he would not get any acting inspector time. In late 2013, he was transferred from Pearson International Airport to 21 Division, where he now works as a detective sergeant.
South Asians are watching the case closely – one that is bound to impact their relationship with the Peel police.