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A patient will be required to pay $9,500 in damages for discriminating against a healthcare worker in the Montreal area.

According to the facts laid out in the judgment, the complainant, who is of Arabic origin, worked as a nursing assistant in a hospital. During an exchange with a patient, the patient aggressively asked him to leave, told him to return home and treated him with contempt because of his ethnicity.

The hospital coordinator was required to intervene, but the patient refused to apologize and asked to be served by other employees who were not Arabic. The request was refused.

When the patient was contacted by an investigator from the Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission to obtain his version of the facts, he reiterated his remarks and threatened to physically attack the complainant.

During the hearing, the patient tried to justify himself, saying he was under the effect of morphine, but the tribunal deemed that anger or intoxication is not a valid excuse for discriminatory remarks.

The complainant testified that he found it difficult to work in the weeks following the events. He was affected to the point of having sleep problems and did not want to leave the hospital alone.

The judgment emphasized that a society cannot on one hand welcome people from other countries who may practice a religion different from the majority, and on the other allow those people to be admonished for their origins or religion, refuse them work or access to certain jobs. We cannot allow people to refuse to be served by people from elsewhere, the judgment read.

The tribunal awarded the complainant $7,500 in moral damages and $2,000 in punitive damages because of the patient's cavalier attitude and the fact that he still considered his remarks justified.