Air Canada worker's union accuses company of "systemic discrimination and harassment"

By SmartCoverage Team on March 9th, 2018

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has a bone to pick with Air Canada and its policies for flight attendants, CBC says.

The human rights complaint accuses the airline of discriminatory policies that target female flight attendants on the basis of “sex, sexual orientation and race” via makeup and uniform expectations.

The complaint “adds [that] the company's new onboard service managers, who perform in-flight assessments of flight attendants, have made sexist, racist and homophobic remarks and have engaged in ‘inappropriate behaviour’ toward flight attendants of both sexes.”

An Air Canada spokeswoman has explained that Air Canada’s policies on grooming and presentation are competitive with other “major international carriers.”

CUPE represents over 8000 flight attendants on Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge. The union is now escalating their grievance to the Canadian Human Rights Commission “because the employer has failed to deal with members’ complaints” in an adequate way, according to Beth Mehan, vice-president of the CUPE section.

The human rights complaint seeks a review of Air Canada’s work policies, and to eliminate the “onboard service managers” program. These onboard service managers perform routine, in-flight assessments of flight attendants and have, based on the complaint, taken their task too far.

In a similar case last month, WestJet Airlines filed for an appeal after British Columbia’s Supreme Court refused to overturn a class-action lawsuit against the corporation. The lawsuit in question accuses WestJet of comparable violations that relate to a corporate culture of gendered harassment against female employees.

One woman, a former flight attendant, is suing WestJet for “allegations of gender-based discrimination, accusing her former employer of breaking its promise to provide a harassment-free workplace for women.”

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