Pubdate: Sat, 06 Jul 2013
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2013 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Teri Pecoskie


It took eight years and $80,000, but Gator Ted's has come out on top.

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed a complaint against 
the Guelph Line sports bar, bringing an end to a nearly decadelong 
dispute between owner Ted Kindos and a patron who smokes medicinal marijuana.

"It's a huge victory against Big Brother," Kindos said. "We protected 
our restaurant, at the end of the day. We knew we did nothing wrong."

Steve Gibson, a restaurant regular, launched the complaint in 2005, 
saying he was discriminated against when Kindos asked him not to 
smoke marijuana outside the establishment's front door. Customers had 
complained about the smell, the owner said.

Gibson, who injured his neck in an industrial accident, is among the 
nearly 14,000 Canadians who are authorized to use marijuana to control pain.

In his 3 3-page decision, Brian Eyolfson, an adjudicator for the 
tribunal, found Gibson does not have a disability-related need to 
smoke marijuana immediately outside Gator Ted's. He also said he's 
not satisfied Gibson established a case of discrimination.

Kindos said he was ready to settle with Gibson several years ago, 
agreeing to pay him $2,000 for mental anguish, arrange sensitivity 
training for staff and post a sign saying the bar accommodated 
medicinal smokers.

He changed his mind, however, when the Alcohol and Gaming Commission 
of Ontario warned that he could lose his liquor licence if anyone is 
caught smoking pot on restaurant property.

The decision to fight the complaint wasn't cheap. In all, Kindos 
estimates he spent as much as $80,000 on the proceedings.

"It was a huge financial impact, but we never gave up," he said.

Gibson, meanwhile, said he wasn't surprised by the outcome. Reached 
at home Friday evening, he said he finds the whole situation "ridiculous."

"The government doesn't know what the hell they're doing," he said, 
before hanging up the phone.

Kindos's lawyer, Gary Graham, described the tribunal's decision as 
"emotional" for his client.

"All he did was make a reasonable request to somebody that they do 
what they had to do away from the entrance of the restaurant," he 
said. "He was just protecting his business."

Graham also said the case raises important questions around the 
province's procedures for filing human rights complaints.

"Under the system by which human rights are adjudicated in Ontario, 
someone can fill out a form and make a complaint and put a small 
business through 10 years of litigation without there being any 
threshold as to how reasonable the complaint is," he said.

"What Ted's case does is demonstrate how vulnerable a small business 
is to frivolous complaints."
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