03/11/2014 04:57 EDT | Updated 05/12/2014 01:59 EDT

CBSA Discriminated Against Large Black Man, Tribunal Rules

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has slammed Canada's Border Services Agency for discriminating against a black job seeker in B.C.

Levan Turner claimed he was excluded from job opportunities in Vancouver and Victoria by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency when he applied for two positions back in 2003 because of his race and size.

The agency was later replaced by the CBSA.

Turner first filed a complaint in 2005, which he lost in 2010, but then the ruling was set aside by a Federal Court of Appeal review in 2012, and sent back to the tribunal for a new hearing.

In making his case to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, Turner's lawyer admitted he had no smoking gun, but discrimination is more about subtlety he argued.

Why else would a man who earned high praise as a seasonal customs inspector be the only candidate disqualified from competition for a full-time job, Turner's lawyer asked.

Despite glowing appraisals, Turner was perceived as lazy — a victim of stereotype, as opposed to evidence — his lawyer argued.

In a 133-page ruling a tribunal member, agreed and ruled two CBSA managers discriminated against Turner because he was black and obese. 

The hearing noted the agency's preference for younger often less-qualified student candidates. And in fact, one of those hired ahead of Turner was later charged with sexual assault for strip-searching female travellers.

A hearing has yet to be held on a remedy, but the tribunal can award Turner up to $20,000 for pain and suffering plus damages for lost wages.

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