Human rights complaint against Walmart pharmacist tossed by Ontario tribunal

A pharmacist checking stock. Photo: HR Law Canada/Canva

Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal has declined to hear a complaint from a man who said a Walmart pharmacist discriminated against him because he was black.

The man filed a complaint after going to a Walmart pharmacy to certify a photocopy of a page of his passport. This sort of service, the tribunal noted, is a discretionary personal one for a pharmacist and not a service on offer as part of Walmart’s business.

The pharmacist declined to certify the photocopy for two simple reasons: “They did not know the applicant and that they were not a customer,” the tribunal said.

The man said “the pharmacist had a big ego that was in control and she did not want to humble and take directions from me on this matter.” Further, he said the reason for the denial of service was because he was a “black” or “coloured” man.

General allegations of unfairness

The tribunal noted that it does not have jurisdiction over general allegations of unfairness.

“A bald assertion that the adverse treatment the applicant received was owing to their enumerated ground is not enough to provide the required factual basis,” it said.

On Oct. 26, 2022, it sent a notice to the man advising the application appeared to be outside its jurisdiction because it did not “clearly explain why the applicant believes the adverse treatment was because of the enumerated grounds.”

Outside tribunal’s jurisdiction

The man responded, but the tribunal said the responses did not address the issue.

“In the submissions in response to the Notice, the applicant provided generalized commentary about historical injustices suffered by Black people but failed to provide any factual basis, or even anything from which I could draw an inference, that the particular pharmacist’s refusal to certify a document was because of the applicant’s race and colour,” it said.

Therefore, it ruled the application did not fall within it’s jurisdiction.

For more information, see DeMattos v. Walmart Canada, 2023 HRTO 69 (CanLII).