Head scarf issue leads to head ache

Canadian entrepreneur Sarah Desrosiers, is facing a legal battle after she denied employment to Bushra Noah because Noah would not abandon her traditional headscarf and display her hair if hired to work in the salon.

Desrosiers’ London, England based Wedge Salon plans to battle Noah’s suit. The small business owner claims that salon workers should showcase their hair to market their ability and essentially, their product. Noah, who has previous experience in salons, feels her headscarf does not hinder her ability to preform salon duties.

In respect of Ontario law, the Ontario Human Rights Code protects employees from discrimiantion in employment.  As a result, they cannot be adversly treated or discriminated against based on a set of ‘grounds’ including race, nationality, religion etc.  Employers do have a legal defence available, however.  In the case of Desrosiers, she would have to demonstate that the requirement of the position, to not wear a headscarf, is a bone fide occupational requirement – or an essential component of the job.

The matter is scheduled to be heard in Central London’s Employment Tribunal in the new year.

For more information, please see the original Toronto Star article here.

Daniel A. Lublin is a Toronto Employment Lawyer.  He can be reached at [email protected] or through his Website www.toronto-employmentlawyer.com.