Saturday, November 17, 2012

Woman denied haircut in barbers files human rights complaint

Barbers in Toronto, Canada who refused to cut a woman’s hair have become the target of a human rights complaint, in a case that pits religious freedom against gender equality. When Faith McGregor went into the Terminal Barber Shop requesting a short haircut, she was told the shop only grooms men.

The reason, co-owner Omar Mahrouk said, was that as a Muslim he could not cut the hair of a woman who was not related to him. But for McGregor, the rejection of her patronage amounted to sexism. “Fundamentally, my hair is the same as their male clients, so why would they have a problem with that,” she said.

“I felt like a second class citizen, like it was hard to hear that they refused and there was no discussion." So the 35-year-old filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. Under the law, business owners aren’t supposed to discriminate based on gender, but Mahrouk felt he had religious rights. A lawyer for the owners also says in their defence they've only ever trained to cut men's hair and that they'd bought a barbershop on the expectation they would only have to serve male clientele.

The Terminal bills itself as “the oldest standing barber shop in Toronto,” offering haircuts, massages and hot lather shaves “in a classic barber shop setting,” since 1925. “If I wanted to have a specialized business geared just towards men that wanted hot razor shaves and cuts, why not,” said Sean Gibson of the Ontario Barber Association. But McGregor disagrees and is hoping to force the shop to service women too. Her case goes to mediation in the new year.

With news video.


Ratz said...

Personally, I'd say it was sex discrimination. If a woman came into a barber's and asked for a haircut, I'd tell her I'd only been trained to cut men's hair so expect it to be a crap haircut, but if she wants it, feel free.

Miss Liss said...

Couldn't go into the 1000 other hairdressers or even barbers in town. Has to carry on over one. I'm a woman, all for equality etc etc, but can't there be ANY place that can just be gender-specific?? Plenty of "ladies only" gyms, I note.

Anonymous said...

Agree with you, Miss Liss. Sounds to me that this woman went in there looking for trouble.

Anonymous said...

I'd seriously like to know what the big difference is, besides that men's haircuts are usually shorter. Aren't most cosmetologists trained to do haircuts for both men and women?

- Wordygrrl

Brixter said...

Big deal! Barber shops are a dime a dozen. Couldn't she go to a barber shop that doesn't have a Muslim owner? It's not like a sickness where she could die if she get refused a haircut. hahaah

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone want a haircut from someone who was forced to do it? If you care so much about rights, doesn't asking the government to force someone to do something take away that person's rights?

soubriquet said...

In any given town there are vastly more womens hairdressers than men's.
And most of those make no secret of the fact that they expect their customers to be women. It's not a problem to most of us, that hairdressing retains gender differentiation.
Why are a few people always determined to pick a fight over something nobody else sees as a problem.
"Next up: The man refused treatment by a gynaecologist!"

Dunex said...

In my nordic country it is illegal to charge more for a female haircut and for some reason you can't charge per length.
This has left us with basically no barbers except for the arabic owned ones and they are not exactly welcoming.

This female should just bugger off

Emma said...

The part that bothers me that keeps getting left out of this story: the barber offered to PAY for her to get her hair cut elsewhere. He even offered to arrange it.

She's the unreasonable one here.

(Also, I live in Toronto, this has totally flushed out a bunch of supposed-liberals into displaying their intolerance. The progressive twittersphere is all a twitter!)