South Asian Peel Police Officer Allegedly Denied Promotion Due to Race

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A recent decision by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario stated that Peel Regional Police discriminated against South Asian-Canadian Sgt. Baljiwan (BJ) Sandhu for a promotion into senior ranks because of his race.

In 2013, Sandhu had applied for a promotion, however, his race was found as a factor in his not being recommended for consideration for promotion to the rank of Inspector. Sandhu was posted in portfolios primarily addressing South Asian issues because of his background, which were were not highly regarded within the Service.

Police Chief Jennifer Evans has since wanted to ensure the community and officers that Peel Regional Police is a diverse and inclusive employer, and that regardless of race, ancestry, or ethnic origin, all employees have equal opportunities for promotion.

"One of the concerns raised [by the Tribunal] was that the officer was assigned to roles supporting the South Asian community because of his ethnic background and his fluency in South Asian languages," Evans commented. "The tribunal found it was that decision that kept him from being considered from a promotional interview in 2013, as these duties were not considered frontline police work."

Though Sandhu had experience as a sergeant and as a detective sergeant in his portfolio, his superiors did not recommend him for a promotion.

Peel Police Chief Jennifer Evans has reiterated her commitment to ensuring Peel Regional Police is free of workplace discrimination and harassment.

"It's important to note that since 2013, Peel Regional Police have introduced changes to our promotional process. The enhancements ensure all officers are recognized for the areas they work in, whether frontline or support services," said Evans.

Sandhu has been commended and awarded for helping solve a variety of cases in the past, such as homicides and drug trafficking incidents. Of the 33 applicants for a promotion to senior ranks, Sandhu was one of two who was denied, and the other officer had much less experience.

Sandhu has experienced verbal harassment based on his race from supervisors and other officers in the past.

In a press release, Peel Regional Police commented that traditional policing models were heavily focused on frontline operation in the past, but the existing police model is also focused on community policing and public engagement. Support services like Diversity Relations, Crime Prevention and Community Support are essential to building strong relationships with their community partners, according to the police.

"I made a commitment that Peel Regional Police will be reflective of the community it serves, and I remain committed to that goal," said Evans. Evans added that the allegations made to the tribunal were concerning, and that the circumstances of Sandhu's case are not reflective of the values of the Peel Regional Police.

Sandhu has abstained from comment since the tribunal.

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