B.C. Human Rights complaint filed because woman using her phone in a cinema 'exacerbated' his mental disabilities | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. Human Rights complaint filed because woman using her phone in a cinema 'exacerbated' his mental disabilities

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June 14, 2020 - 12:45 PM

A moviegoer who complained about a person sitting nearby playing with their phone has launched a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal complaint alleging the cinema's handling of the incident exacerbated his mental disabilities and amounted to discrimination.

In the June 5 B.C. Human Rights Tribunal decision, the complainant, whose request for anonymity was granted, requests Landmark Cinema hand over video surveillance of the incident, and all communication the cinema has about the complaint. The complainant also asks for the names of people sitting nearby in the cinema so they can be called as witnesses. The names of the staff members involved are also requested so the complainant can add them as individual respondents in his complaint.

Landmark Cinema has applied to dismiss his complaint.

However, Tribunal Member Devyn Cousineau agreed with nearly all of the complainant's demands – including to keep his name anonymous – and ordered the cinema to write to people sitting within four seats of the complainant and his wife to inform them of the hearing.

The tribunal also ordered the video surveillance to be handed over and said if it doesn't exist – as the complainant says he suspects it may have been destroyed – the theatre must explain when the footage was destroyed and why.

According to the decision, the incident occurred before the movie had even started. The decision also makes no mention of what movie was just about to be shown.

The documents say the incident occurred when a woman sitting nearby in the cinema playing on her phone refused to turn it off when the complainant asked her to. The woman responded in a "derogatory way" and the complainant then told a cinema employee who then asked the woman to turn her phone off. The woman told the member of staff her phone was off. The complainant then grabbed the woman's phone and showed the staffer it was on.

The woman then became "defensive and hostile" towards the complainant says the decision.

The complainant then made several complainants to various managers and was offered another seat or a refund and complimentary tickets. The decision says the woman refused to change seats.

The complainant says the impact of the incident seriously exacerbated his mental disabilities and the manager showed a "severe lack of empathy for people with mental disabilities."

The decision does not say what kind of mental disabilities the complainant suffers from.

In the cinema's defence, it says the woman complied with the request to put her phone away and there was no reason that she should leave. The cinema says it offered the complainant a different seat and when he refused, complimentary tickets. The cinema says its efforts to accommodate the complainant were reasonable.

The complainant now has until July 1 to file a response to the cinema's application to dismiss the complaint.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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