Toronto, ON — A local barbershop that refused for religious reasons to cut a woman’s hair has been hauled before Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal.
Faith McGregor went to the Terminal Barber Shop in Toronto for a so-called businessman haircut, which is described as “short on the sides, tapered, trim the top.”
According to the Toronto Star, however, “Shop co-owner Omar Mahrouk told her his Muslim faith prohibits him from touching a woman who is not a member of his family. All the other barbers said the same thing.”
McGregor then filed a complaint against the shop, claiming that she was made to feel like a “second-class citizen.” She wants the government tribunal to order the barber shop to provide men’s haircuts to both genders and to post a sign that both male and female customers are welcome. McGregor is not, however, seeking money damages.
Some time after the complaint was filed, the barbershop offered to make arrangements for McGregor to get a haircut elsewhere, but she turned it down as a matter of principle, and the case is still pending. A resolution is not expected until sometime next year.
Canadian civil rights law is different from the equivalent American law to some degree. There are, nonetheless, a lot of competing issues going on here. They include religious freedom, tolerance, public accommodation, business regulation (or overregulation), gender bias, and so forth. However, given that there must be hundreds of barbershops in Toronto, wouldn’t it be better for a dissatisfied customer to simply take her business elsewhere?