Hair salon ordered to pay $12,500 for preventing Jewish hairstylist from working Sabbath
Published Thursday, July 13, 2017 10:37AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 13, 2017 7:02PM EDT
A Montreal hair salon has been ordered by the Human Rights Tribunal to pay more than $12,500 to a hairstylist after they prevented him from working on Saturdays due to his religion.
Richard Zilberg, who is Jewish, was told he couldn’t work on the Sabbath at Spa Orazen on Queen Mary Rd. The business has since changed its name.
Zilberg worked at the spa for 10 months starting in October 2011. At first he worked on Saturdays, but then, he said he was given a new edict.
“I was not permitted to go to the salon and work on Saturdays based on the fact, and solely on the fact, that I'm Jewish,” he said in a 2015 interview, adding that he was told Jewish people shouldn't work on the Sabbath.
Meantime non-Jewish employees were entitled to work on Saturdays -- the busiest day of the week.
He said working on Saturdays does not violate his spiritual values.
"I'm not traditional in terms of practicing Judaism, but I have a very strong affinity with my faith" said Zilberg.
In addition, the owner of the establishment, Iris Gressy, had ordered Zilberg not to inform clients of the policy.
After learning that the hairdresser had violated his instructions by telling one of his clients, Gressy accused him of violating the confidentiality of his policy and dismissed him after a dispute.
“This ruling reminds us that an employer cannot impose different working conditions on an employee on the basis of his or her religion, which is one of the grounds of discrimination prohibited by the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms," Commission president Tamara Thermitus said in the ruling.
"Freedom of conscience and religion, a fundamental freedom guaranteed by the Charter, includes the right not to be bound by religious observance, as the judgment points out. It includes the right to believe and not to believe," she added.
Quebec's Human Rights Commission already agreed to that assessment in 2015, and awarded Zilberg $20,000 in moral and punitive damages and for loss of income.
The business did not comply and was therefore sent to the Human Rights Tribunal, which does have enforceable power.
Gressy has been ordered to pay Zilberg $6,000 in property damage, $4,000 in moral damages, and $2,500 in punitive damages.