An Ottawa agency is to review its hemline policy and in the meantime will offer wages to a Pearson airport employee suspended for wearing a long skirt.
“We do not want her to be financially penalized,” said Ana-Karina Tabunar, spokesperson for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.
Whether the agency might also offer three months of back pay has not been decided, she said.
The suspension is likely to last a while as the review involves complex issues, Tabunar said.
“The whole idea of uniformity is meant to establish a consistent, credible and professional corporate identity,” she said, “and to change any aspect of the uniform or the uniform policy would have to take a lot of thought and consideration.”
The agency is to make the wage offer today to Garda of Canada, the company that directly employs airport security screener Halima Muse, 33, a practising Muslim.
Muse was not available for comment yesterday. On Friday, she filed a brief with the Canadian Human Rights Commission on the basis of religious discrimination.
In February, after five years as a screener, Muse asked superiors if she could wear a long skirt as part of her uniform. Regulations allowed her to wear the hijab, or Muslim scarf, but otherwise her choice had been between a knee-length skirt and slacks.
She had worn slacks but slacks show the curve of the body and don’t conform to Islam’s requirement for modest dress, she said last week. No matter how hot the weather, she always wore her uniform jacket to cover the hips.
Garda agreed to let her wear an ankle-length skirt that matched the uniform.
But in August, the federal authority insisted Muse conform to official regulations and had her suspended.
Roy Cullen, Liberal member of Parliament for Etobicoke North, where Muse lives, yesterday called the suspension “ridiculous … absurd.”
No issues of safety or security were raised, Mihad Fahmy, at the Ottawa-based Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, has said.