Langley club’s bouncer assaulted Indo-Canadian complainant, human rights tribunal hears

Published: April 30, 2013
Manjit Gill

Manjit Gill (left) and Serge Rai attend their human rights tribunal in Vancouver, B.C., on April 30, 2013. Wayne Leidenfrost/PNG



An Indo-Canadian man who claims he was denied entry by the Langley Shark Club because he’s brown-skinned was assaulted by a bouncer that night after taking his picture.

Serge Rai, 43, filed a complaint against the club, along with his friends, Manjinder and Manjit Gill, a married couple who each filed a complaint against the club, after a bouncer refused them entry on Dec. 9, 2011.

The three complaints of race discrimination are being heard together by a B.C. human rights tribunal.

The three friends, all in their 40s and sober, were among a small group of Indo-Canadians who arrived 15 minutes late for a reserved party.

Doorman Andrew Schmah continued to admit other patrons, none of whom were visible minorities and some who had no tickets, the complainants said, after he told them the club was sold out, Rai said.

Rai said they continued to ask the doorman to be admitted and were also denied the opportunity to speak with a manager.

When Rai asked Schmah his name, the bouncer gave him a false last name and smirked, he said.

Rai also told the tribunal he was standing about “15 feet” away from Schmah, who was working the door behind a velvet rope, when he took a photograph of him with his cellphone.

“He came right at me,” said Rai. “He just charged at me.”

Schmah grabbed Rai in a headlock and flung him to the ground and Rai’s one shoe flew off, Rai said.

Schmah was convicted in May of assault in provincial court for the incident and sentenced to one year’s probation, according to court documents.

Rai also testified that in 2004 after phoning for New Year’s Eve party tickets at the club and being told there were lots available, arrived with his Indo-Canadian wife to be told they were sold out. A white couple they approached in the parking lot were able to purchase the tickets for them.

“I couldn’t let it rest this time,” he said to explain why he filed a human rights complaint.

He filed the complaint in February 2013 and received the Shark Club’s response in May, when it filed to have the complaint dismissed.

“It made me physically sick to my stomach at how many lies were told [by the Club in the application],” said Rai. “Their story was completely opposite of what happened that night and it was completely fabricated.”

Club manager Brent Chow told the tribunal he heard Rai say he was going to post photos of Shark Club staff on Facebook saying they were racist for not letting them in and that’s when he barred them.

Over hours of confusing testimony that had the tribunal chair seeking repeated clarification and the complainants shaking their heads, Chow also said they weren’t allowed in because they were late for their reservations and alternatively that only Rai was refused entry for not producing ID but the others were then barred for being belligerent.

Chow also said his staff told him Rai threatened to get a gun from his car and shoot them and the bouncer only assaulted Rai after he threatened the bouncer with a “metal stanchion.”

Chow also defended the bouncer’s profanity against the group and the assault as fitting within the Shark Club’s written professional code, maintaining it was OK for his employees to use profanity if a patron did first.

Chow eventually backed down after being challenged by the incredulous chairman and conceded the bouncer “did lose his cool a bit. But he took ownership of it.”

A written letter went on the file of Schmah, who no longer works for Shark Club.

The tribunal is scheduled to continue Wednesday with testimony of the two bouncers working that night.

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