Former spa employee says she lost her job over her religious head covering
Published Friday, August 17, 2012 5:31PM MDT
Last Updated Friday, August 17, 2012 7:06PM MDT
A Calgary woman is fighting back after being fired from her dream job and she says her dismissal is rooted in discrimination.
Melissa Cloutier recently converted to Islam. She approached the spa where she was working about starting to wear a headscarf over her head called a hijab.
According to Cloutier, the spa told her head and arm coverings were not part of the uniform. Cloutier could not afford to lose the job, so she began wearing the hijab just on her way to work and removing it when she got there.
Two weeks later, the spa, Santé Spa, dismissed her from her duties.
“I went on to ask ‘Is it my attitude? No. My work ethic? No. Did I do anything? No. Is it the way I performed my job, in my training, anything? It's just a feeling that we have’,” says Cloutier. “So in two weeks, the only thing that has changed is my hijab.”
The spa confirms that Melissa Cloutier was employed there for a short time, but the representatives can't say anything else because the company’s policy is to not talk about specific individual employee files.
Melissa has started to launch a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission and enlisted the help of the Muslim relations organization, Cair-CAN, the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“I find it frustrating when I hear a story like this,” says Madiha Vaid, a member of Cair-CAN. “As a Canadian professional Muslim woman who wears the Hijab, I wouldn't want to have to chose between my religion and my employment.”
Melissa says she would be more than willing to seek a resolution with the spa, hoping they didn't understand it's illegal to prevent an employee to wear religious garb as long as it doesn't interfere with the job.
She says she would love to be able to go back to work.
Melissa's case has brought other Calgary Muslim women together to share their own experiences of wearing the hijab.