TORONTO, Nov. 19 /CNW/ - The Teamsters Union and a Canadian Muslim
organization have jointly filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights
Commission on behalf of a female Toronto airport screener who has been
suspended for wearing a skirt that is longer than the one supplied with her
Halima Muse, a practicing Muslim, wants to wear the longer skirt to
conform with the Islamic dress code that calls for women to wear lose fitting
clothes that cover the entire body except the face, hands and feet. The skirt
issued to airport screeners reaches below the knee. Ms Muse wore a home-made
longer skirt, hemmed just above the ankle, for about six months before she was
suspended without pay.
The complaint was filed by the Teamsters Local Union 847 and the Canadian
Council on American-Islamic Relations, a non profit advocacy organization
dedicated to educating non-Muslims about Islam. The complaint states that
Ms Muse has been discriminated against on the basis of her religion by the
Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) and Garda, the company that
employs her. The regulations governing screeners' uniforms are established by
Ms Muse, 33, has been employed as a screener at Pearson International
Airport for five years. Prior to February 2007, she wore the standard uniform
with pants that are also issued by the company.
"However, she never felt comfortable wearing the pants as she felt that
they were not modest enough and showed the shape of her body," the complaint
states. "As a result, Ms Muse always kept her jacket on throughout her shift."
In February 2007 she asked Garda for a longer skirt. When told none was
available, she made one herself that was identical in color and fabric to the
issued skirt except that it was hemmed a few inches above her ankles rather
than a few inches below her knees.
On August 11, 2007, she was suspended for one day for being "out of
proper CATSA uniform." The following days she sent a letter to Garda setting
out her religious objections to the standard issue uniform. She was given two
more short-term suspensions and on August 29, 2007, the company instructed her
to return her identification and sent her home.
Teamsters Local Union 847 approached Garda on Ms Muse's behalf and the
company agreed to discuss the matter with CATSA. Subsequently, Garda informed
the union that CATSA would not permit any exceptions to its uniform policy.
"CATSA has not informed the union of any safety or other business reasons
for refusing to accommodate Ms Muse's religious beliefs by permitting her to
wear a longer skirt," the complaint to the Human Rights Commission states.
Teamsters Local Union 847 has grieved against Garda under the parties'
collective agreement. However, the uniform policy itself cannot be challenged
under the grievance procedure since CATSA is not a party to the collective
For further information:
For further information: James Robbins, Cavalluzzo Hayes Shilton
McIntyre & Cornish LLP, (416) 964-5509; Jo-Anne Pickel, Cavalluzzo Hayes
Shilton McIntyre & Cornish LLP, (416) 964-5537; Mihad Fahmy, Canadian Council
on American-Islamic Relations, 1-866-524-0004; Ed Hawyrsh, Teamsters Local
Union 847, tel: (647) 220-1898