Salon fired me over headscarf: Worker

Muslim woman claimed she was told headgear wasn’t allowed at salon that promoted hair
|employmentlawtoday.com|Last Updated: 02/11/2011

An Ontario Muslim woman is considering a human rights complaint after she says she was fired from a hair salon for wearing a hijab.

Mehwish Ali, 22, was hired in December to work as an esthetician for Trade Secrets, a salon in Pickering, Ont. Her job duties included doing facials, manicures, pedicures and waxing. A Muslim, Ali wore a hijab, or headscarf, to work every day according to her religious beliefs.

Things seemed to be going fine with her job until Feb. 5, when the co-owner of the store, Mylene Facchini, came in and saw her wearing the hijab for the first time. Two days later, when Ali arrived at work, Facchini told her headwear was unacceptable because the salon promoted hair and told her to remove her headscarf. Ali hadn’t thought it was a problem since her job didn’t have anything to do with hair. Shocked, Ali went home.

The next day, Feb. 8, Trade Secrets sent Ali an email saying she was fired for reasons relating to her “productivity, contribution and lack of initiative.” She was skeptical because she hadn’t previously been told there were any problems with the job she was doing, she told the Toronto Star.

The salon denied Ali was fired because of her hajib and co-owner Robert Facchini told the Star other employees told him Ali’s work performance was “poor” and, since she was still in her probationary period, he decided to dismiss her.

“This is a performance issue, strictly a performance issue,” Facchini told the Star.

However, Ali doesn’t buy the reasons for her firing and is seeking advice from the Human Rights Legal Support Centre.

“I was devasted when I heard (her hijab wasn’t allowed). I have worn the hijab for 10 years and never felt any kind of discrimination,” Ali told the Star. “No one ever told me there was a problem with my work."

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