Did CFL club fumble handling of bizarre fan complaint?

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Tip for businesses: don't dare shrug off a customer complaint, no matter how laughable it may be.

An Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has okayed a complaint against the Toronto Argonauts, basically because the organization didn’t handle a ridiculous complaint with the proper respect.

The Argos support the White Ribbon Campaign, a movement that aims to engage men in ending violence against women. Created after the 1989 Ecole Polytechnique massacre, the effort encourages men to speak out against such violence, but Argos season-ticket holder Robert Heath found the campaign discriminatory — against him.

Here’s his reasoning, as explained to the tribunal (Warning: it may be difficult to read the following while rolling your eyes):

“Having been a victim of domestic violence 27 years ago and knowing that the WRC only looks at half the population and not the whole population (50 per cent of victims of domestic violence are men), and the WRC claims that women are the victims and men are the villains, the WRC sexually discriminates against men.”

We’ll get back to that statistic in a minute.

Heath, horribly offended by this campaign to reduce anti-female violence, complained to the team, but says he got no response. He then reportedly called Argos exec Jason Colaro, who, according to Heath, threatened to cancel his season tickets. Still unsatisfied, he then called Argos CEO Chris Rudge, who allegedly hung up on Heath after the conversation got heated.

More from Heath’s complaint:

“Having season tickets to the Toronto Argonauts games, they are supposed to make me feel secure, both physically and mentally, so that I can enjoy the games. Having [an] advertisement that discriminates against men does not give me the feeling of being secure and to enjoy the games.”

Adjudicator Keith Brennenstuhl didn’t buy the discrimination claim, and dismissed it. However, he said Heath can pursue a claim against the team for threatening to cancel his season tickets.

Ontario’s Human Rights Code forbids all kinds of discrimination, but it also forbids reprisals or threats of reprisals against anyone who files a complaint. If the Argos did indeed threaten to cancel Heath’s season tickets — which the team denies — then it would amount to a violation of the code.

However, it seems doubtful that a team with the Argos’ attendance numbers would actually turn away fans.

Not being specifically related to the case, Brennenstuhl didn’t remark on Heath’s highly questionable statistic that 50 per cent of domestic violence victims are men.

While violence against men is a real and legitimate problem, studies consistently show that the victims are disproportionately female: 83 per cent of police-reported domestic assaults are against women. While it’s widely believed that men are less likely to report being the victims of domestic violence, Heath’s numbers still don’t add up.

Trumped-up stats or not, the case is going ahead, although Brennenstuhl said they’re not yet at a stage for him to make a final ruling.

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