Members-only Granite Club in Toronto ordered to pay $35K for mistreatment of man
An exclusive private club in Toronto has been fined $35K after demanding a man with autism be supervised at all times while using their facilities.
Niam Jain, 20, is a prominent artist in Toronto and was a regular patron at The Granite Club in North York. The private, family, athletic and social club was founded in 1875 and has about 11,000 members.
According to court documents, an incident between Jain and another club member in one of the facility's locker rooms in 2020 led to the club's decision.
On Feb. 10, 2020, another club member, Andrew Gage, testified that he found Jain — who was 17 at the time — going through his belongings while making strange sounds.
According to court documents, Gage repeatedly asked Jain what he was doing. When Jain failed to respond, Gage testified that he raised his voice to grab another member's attention, that being Brian Fox.
Fox testified that he witnessed a "threatening situation" and said Gage's questioning of Jain went on for at least a minute. He also testified that Jain made a sound resembling spitting.
Gage eventually told a club manager that "he and other members pay way too much money to have this kind of thing happen in the locker room."
After investigating the claims, and weighing the Jain family's recommendations, the club ultimately decided to deter similar instances from happening by requiring Jain to be supervised at all times while using the club's facilities.
This caused Jain, along with his family, to file a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The tribunal has since ruled in Jain's favour.
The family was initially granted anonymity, but decided to do a public interview in hopes of reminding "organizations of their obligations to acommodate disabilities and make a difference for people with autism."
One of Jain's lawyers, Jenn Bontorin, told CTV News that Jain expresses himself through "stims" which are repetitive soothing behaviours that can be misinterpreted by some.
The tribunal found that the club should revoke the requirement for Jain to have a caregiver, introduce other accomodations for Jain such as signage, and improve its human rights training and pay the maximum damages of $35,000.
The Granite Club told CTV News that it is "firmly committed to providing an inclusive space to all members of our community and intends to fully comply with the steps outlined in the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario’s decision."
The Jain family had been longtime members of the club, and joined in 2008 when Niam was only six years old.
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