BUSINESS
09/10/2014 01:26 EDT | Updated 11/10/2014 05:59 EST

Ottawa Valley Carpet Cleaning Says They've Been Mistaken As Racist

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TORONTO - "Is this the racist company?"

"Go hang yourself ... today if at all possible."

They're just a sample of more than a dozen disturbing emails George Monsour said he's received in an awful case of mistaken identity.

One of his company's divisions, Ottawa Valley Carpet Cleaning, has been misidentified as another business that was ordered to pay $8,000 to a job applicant for discrimination, he said from Ottawa.

The Human Rights Tribunal ruled last week that Ottawa Valley Cleaning and Restoration discriminated against Malek Bouraoui, who is black, by telling him it "only hires white men" in a series of "abusive" text messages. The company didn't participate in the case and has not commented on the decision.

Monsour said his business, which has operated for eight years, has absolutely no affiliation to Ottawa Valley Cleaning and Restoration or any of its staff.

"We are a reputable business ... we're just normal, decent people," he said.

He spent about four to five hours on Tuesday responding to the flood of emails to correct the record, Monsour said. He also used Twitter for the first time to clear his company's name, quoting some of the comments he's received.

One called him a "racist loser," another an "idiot" who should "cough up that $8,000."

"They make me feel upset," he said. "Upset that they're not doing their research and everyone's just jumping down our throats due to the fact that we have the same 'Ottawa Valley' in our company name."

Ottawa Valley Carpet Cleaning is one of eight divisions of his company, Home Service Group Inc., which provide different services, from duct cleaning to gas appliance installation, Monsour said. He's not concerned for his safety, but he is worried that it may affect his business, although that hasn't happened so far.

"I'm trying to fend it off before it affects me and affects my staff and their livelihood, because it's pretty serious," he said, adding that he has about 16 employees of "all races, all beliefs."

"I'm just looking at saying, 'You know what? Back off, it's not us. Just get the facts straight and don't slander my company. We've worked very hard to get a good reputation.'"

The hatred directed at Monsour and his company bears some similarity to the tone of the text messages at the heart of the human rights case.

After Bouraoui was denied the job in 2013, he said he was told by a man named Jesse to "try learning English you will have better luck I don't hire foreners (sic) I keep the white man working," according to the tribunal.

Another text told Bouraoui "go file a complaint he will probably be a white man and he will probably laugh at you and tell you to go away."

The tribunal said it found "multiple violations" of Bouraoui's rights under the Human Rights Code.

Ottawa Valley Cleaning and Restoration "persistently ridiculed the applicant because of his race, colour and place of origin" and Bouraoui was "deeply hurt, shocked and humiliated" by the comments, Genevieve Debane wrote in her decision.

"Though the applicant's interactions with the respondent were of a very short duration, the contents of the text messages sent to the applicant are not only discriminatory but they are egregious and abusive in nature."

A call to Ottawa Valley Cleaning and Restoration was answered by the voice mail of a man identifying himself as Jesse Simpson. He has not responded to a request for comment.