By Charles Nwaoguji
The Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (“Commission”) on Sunday, November 8, 2020 received credible information, and subsequently a complaint ref: FCCPC/DSE/32849 at approximately 11:00 P.M. The subject of the information and complaint was that a regular patron at Harzoyka Restaurant, No. 71B, Oduduwa Crescent, Ikeja Lagos was denied entry at approximately 3:50 PM on Sunday November 8, 2020. The reason for denied entry to the restaurant was that she was female, and unaccompanied by a male companion.
Between the restaurant’s opening time 0f 11:00 A.M and 1:30 PM on Monday, November 9, the Commission conducted surveillance and monitoring at the location, including attempted patronage by an undercover lone female operative of the Commission. The operative was only engaged to ensure proper face covering to gain access, and there were other lone female patrons in the restaurant.
Further investigations by the Commission included engaging security, service personnel and senior management of the restaurant. The proprietor admits that approximately 30 days ago, it implemented a new access control policy to promote social distancing in accordance with prevailing COVID-19 management protocols, but denies such policy was targeted at, or to deny access to lone female patrons.
The Commission notes that Harzoyka Restaurant failed to provide appropriate sensitivity training; and exercise sufficient oversight with respect to security operatives who enforce access control policies and efforts (including clear and timely escalation of customer dissatisfaction to management). As such, it is highly probable that this failure led to the unresolved discriminatory incident.
The Commission is issuing a Compliance Notice pursuant to Section 150, Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Act, and the undertaking in question shall remain under supervision for a limited period to ensure adequate training and oversight regarding illegal or prohibited parameters for denying access; and proper customer engagement and complaint resolution.
The Commission rejects any discrimination or stereotyping on account of race, gender, social class or any other protected ground, and will subject any perpetrators to the fullest weight of the law. The Commission commends the complainant, and invites the public to call out conducts and practices by businesses that violate the rights of citizens.