Local business targeted with racial remarks when enforcing Kingston mask policy

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    The Kingston Coffee House faced backlash when asking a customer to wear a mask

    After Vid, owner of the Kingston Coffee House, found out about the mandatory mask order, he was expecting some “Karen” behaviour from customers, a term that describes someone perceived to be entitled or demanding beyond what is necessary. However, he was not expecting to encounter racial undertones.

    One of his baristas, Gunjan, was on shift serving a customer. She asked whether or not the customer had a face covering. In response, the customer became irate, slamming tables and yelling “you are a bloody Indian and should not be here in this country!”

    The woman continued ranting, saying : “your mom and dad didn’t raise [you] well.” The customer then left the store.

    Upon hearing about this, Vid was appalled and decided to address this behaviour through a post describing this encounter on the store’s Facebook page. He states that while everyone is entitled to their opinions, he asks that customers be polite and understand they are simply following guidelines. Immediately after, the coffee house received an outpouring of support. Over 20,000 people have since seen the post. Vid believes that the level of support and love from the community to the employee and the business has been overwhelming overwhelming.

    The mandatory mask covering guidelines have pushed much of the enforcement to individual businesses. Failure to enforce face coverings can result in a fine of $5,000 per day by the City of Kingston. Enforcement is much stricter for businesses which are at higher risk of contracting the virus, where health officials observe how guidelines are enforced. This is a time where businesses are already struggling financially.

    Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, the employer has a statutory obligation to prevent employees from customer harassment. However, legal experts admit that it’s especially difficult to investigate these claims if the individual is not identifiable after the fact.

    Vid doesn’t feel very optimistic about finding out who harrassed his employee. When asked about what can be done to prevent this from happening again, Vid didn’t feel very optimistic.

    “People do not have identifiable tags when they walk in. Short of coaching our staff, theres not much in our hands.” Vid says.

    Kingston Coffee House Co. has been in operation since 2017

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