A man claims he was refused service at a Halifax bar because of the colour of his skin, but staff say it’s because he didn’t have a valid ID. Now the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission is looking into the matter.

Dino Gilpin, who became a Canadian citizen in 2007, says he went to the Halifax Alehouse for wings and beer in February 2010 but was turned away.

“They told me I had an invalid ID. They would not accept me,” says Gilpin.

His Nova Scotia ID and driver’s licence had both expired, so he says he showed his health card, university ID and social insurance card.

But bar staff say they are not considered legitimate forms of identification because they don’t include birth dates.

Gilpin then showed his Canadian citizenship card.

“This was never seen by a lot of my staff,” says bar owner Marcel Khoury.

Khoury says it wasn’t in their ID manual either. So, with the two expired IDs and another card staff weren’t familiar with, they had to make a judgement call.

“We are scrutinized and there's a lot of pressure on us as a licence to adhere to the Liquor Control Act and the regulations and policies that are set forth,” says Khoury.

At one point, Gilpin had to leave the inquiry to regain his composure.

“We all know you stand out in a crowd,” says Gilpin. “You're a black man, people want to make fun of you, people want to say you're a bad person.”

The inquiry heard from the bar’s general manager, who says he steers a tight ship. He says the bar’s motto is ‘if in doubt, leave them out.’

Gerald Hashey, dispute resolution manager with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, shared results of a survey that looked into whether minorities had a different experience in the consumer marketplace.

He says the results don’t speak to the specifics of this inquiry, but they do paint a broad context.

“The results show that generally, aboriginal shoppers are sometimes four times more likely to experience slow service, refused service, or being followed by security or store personnel,” says Hashey.

The general manager told the inquiry it seems foreign to him that someone would be turned away because of race or religion.

He also says the establishment is owned by Lebanese-Canadians and is a rainbow workforce.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster