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B.C. Human Rights Tribunal dismisses Best Buy mask complaint

People need to be part of the disability accommodation process rather than expect exactly what they want, B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has said in dismissing a face mask complaint.
B.C.'s Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed a mask complaint saying a a company did not have to provide perfect accommodation for a man's disabilities.

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed a complaint from an electronics store shopper who claims he was discriminated against for not wearing a mask.

John Ratchford alleges Best Buy Ltd. discriminated against him on the grounds of physical disability by not allowing him to shop without a mask.

Ratchford was maskless when he was stopped from entering a Best Buy store by an employee in October 2020. When asked to put on a mask, Ratchford told the employee that he had asthma and could not wear one.

In response, the company offered to bring him products to the door to look at. However, Ratchford said that he has another disability that would have made standing at the door cause him pain.

Tribunal member Emily Ohler noted Ratchford did not say what that disability was.

“It does not appear that Mr. Ratchford explained this to Best Buy in refusing this option,” Ohler said.

Best Buy argued it had discharged its duty to accommodate Ratchford.

Ohler said Ratchford provided no evidence aside from his assertion that could prove that he has a physical disability that prevents him from wearing a mask.

“Nonetheless, even if he were to prove this was the case, with the result that he was prevented from shopping in-store, I am satisfied it is reasonably certain that Best Buy would establish a defence,” Ohler said.

In dismissing the complaint, Ohler acknowledged the situation was doubtlessly frustrating for Ratchford, but, Ohler added, Best Buy was not obligated to provide a perfect accommodation, but a reasonable one.

She said Ratchford was obligated to accept reasonable solutions in that accommodation process.