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BC Human Rights Tribunal dismisses gay man’s complaint against hotel

No costs awarded to Vancouver Holiday Inn

The BC Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed a gay man’s complaint against a Vancouver hotel, saying it had no prospect of success.

Ryan Michael Sullivan filed a complaint alleging that the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Vancouver Downtown discriminated against him with respect to a service customarily available to the public on the basis of sexual orientation.

Sullivan alleged that when his boyfriend enquired on Aug 2, 2009, if there were rooms available, the front-desk employee advised that “unfortunately we had some problems with the gays, so we are not taking any more rooms.”

The hotel denied Sullivan’s allegations.

In an Aug 19 decision, tribunal member Tonie Beharrell noted the complaint was filed on behalf of both men, but Sullivan’s boyfriend ultimately never signed it, nor did he provide an affidavit or a witness statement.

Beharrell also noted that the hotel had raised the third-party issue in its application to dismiss the complaint. The complaint came down to an alleged interaction between an employee of the hotel and third party [Sullivan] who did not witness the alleged occurrence, Beharrell said.

Sullivan did not provide a response to the hotel’s application, although he had clearly been advised that he was entitled to do so, Beharrell wrote.

Beharrell ruled Sullvan’s complaint had no prospect of success and dismissed it.

The tribunal also refused to award costs to the hotel, saying such a decision would put a chill on people filing similar complaints in the future.

“The chilling effect of such a finding on those contemplating filing complaints would be substantial, and this would not serve to further the purposes of [the provincial Human Rights Code],” the tribunal said.