SURREY – A Surrey metal recycling company that claims it was harassed by a pair of city bylaws inspectors because its directors and employees are Chinese has lost a battle in B.C. Supreme Court.
Zhen Hao Chen, Liang Hai Su, Wong Chee Kwai, Carlos Yeung, Marco Fung and Terry Chen, of Ever Recycling Inc. in Bridgeview, petitioned Justice Lisa Warren to reverse the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal’s rejection of their complaint, but Warren upheld the tribunal’s decision Friday in Vancouver.
The City of Surrey, bylaw inspectors Don Smith and Andrew Singh and the BCHRT were respondents.
The metal recyclers alleged that Smith and Singh had "harassed" them based on their race and place of origin and had added the City of Surrey to their complaint on grounds the city is vicariously liable for its employees’ conduct.
The two bylaw officers began inspecting Ever Recycling in May 2007 and the recyclers filed their complaint with the tribunal in November 2011, claiming that while the inspections were ostensibly to
ensure that Ever Recycling complied with the city’s bylaws, the officers’ conduct amounted to "orchestrated harassment."
The recyclers presented 15 specific incidents involving the bylaw officers allegedly using City of Surrey vehicles to block the public entrance to their scrap yard, yelling and screaming at them, ticketing them for "every possible" bylaw infraction, and making no effort to explain the city’s bylaws to the recyclers or to help Ever Recycling comply with them.
They also accused the Surrey bylaw officers of conducting "illegal" searches and taking photos of their scrap yard.
The court heard the petitioners took issue with the bylaw inspectors allegedly screaming at them in English "even though they knew or should have realized that many of the complainants did not understand English."
The fact Smith and Singh spoke English while carrying out their duties, Warren noted, "could not possibly support an inference that race or place of origin" was a factor in how the recyclers were treated.