A 22-year-old Muslim woman claims she was fired this week from her job at a Trade Secrets salon because she wears a hijab.
Mehwish Ali, an esthetician from Markham, says one of the Pickering store’s co-owners, Mylene Facchini, saw her wearing her headscarf for the first time last Saturday. Two days later, Ali maintains, Facchini told her the scarf was inappropriate because it covered her hair, which the company was in the business of promoting. On Tuesday, she received an email dismissing her from her job.
“I was shaking,” Ali said on Thursday. “I was crying. I called my friends. I called my sister. My sister was overwhelmed. She just started wearing the hijab. She said, ‘Is this really what you face?'”
Facchini’s husband and co-owner, Rob, says the store terminated Ali six weeks into her three-month probation because of poor performance.
“Scarves and dress and all of that – that wasn’t the issue,” he said. “I don’t know why I’m getting pulled back into the issue. It’s not … related to the reason why she was terminated.”
“The staffers who interviewed her did not interview her with her hijab on. And her performance – based on consulting two individuals who worked with her more regularly – wasn’t up to par.”
According to Ali, she has been wearing her hijab for 10 years and wore it to her interview. She said she was told if she had been allowed to stay with the company, she would have had to ditch her headscarf.
“I said, ‘OK, if that’s the reason, if I still worked for you would I be able to wear my hijab?'” Ali related. “He said, ‘No. I sell hair products. I don’t care if the manager hired you. I’m the owner and I make the rules.'”
Ali has brought her case to the Human Rights Legal Support Centre and plans to take the matter to a tribunal.