Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Staffer fired for alleged racism

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A local Sears employee has been fired following an alleged racial incident involving a customer on Saturday.

The incident, a video of which has been posted on social media by a witness, shows a Sears employee at the Polo Park store respond with "You just came off the boat?" when the customer, who appears to be Asian, says to him "Let me guess, you came from Domo?" after being told security had been notified.

The incident was allegedly sparked by the employee telling the customer to get his child off a lawn mower on display in the store.

The video goes on to show the customer swearing at the employee and demanding he be fired.

Vincent Power, a Toronto-based spokesman for Sears Canada, said on Monday the employee was immediately suspended after the incident on Saturday. The decision was later made to terminate the employee.

"We apologize to all who have been involved in this matter," he said.

"Speaking in a discriminatory way is against our code of conduct, and I believe our customers would know that this kind of behaviour is not common at Sears. We have 20,000 associates across Canada, and we have associates read and review the code of conduct on an annual basis and attest to the fact that they have done so."

Darlyne Bautista, the co-ordinator of Canada's first Filipino heritage courses at the University of Winnipeg and the daughter of immigrants, said the incident reminds her of similar ones she heard of while she was growing up in Winnipeg in the 1980s.

"It's such a completely different feeling now," Bautista said.

"This was very common back in the mid-1980s."

But Bautista said based on the words spoken by both people at the beginning of the video, "It doesn't matter who started it — they are both culpable."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 4, 2014 A7

History

Updated on Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 11:59 AM CST: Adds video of incident

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