(Canadian Press)

Air Canada union files human rights complaint

It’s alleging “systemic discrimination and harassment”over flight attendant treatment

The union representing Air Canada flight attendants says it has filed a human rights complaint alleging “systemic discrimination and harassment” of its members.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees says the airline’s policies on uniforms and makeup are discriminatory towards female flight attendants on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and race.

It adds 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” towards flight attendants of both sexes.

The union that represents 8,500 flight attendants at Air Canada and Rouge is turning to the Canadian Human Rights Commission because the employer has failed to deal with members’ complaints, says CUPE section vice-president Beth Mahan.

It is asking the commission to order a review of Air Canada policies and eliminate the onboard service managers program.

A spokeswoman for Air Canada says that it has policies related to grooming and presentation, which she says is the standard for major international carriers.

But she says that because the matter is before the human rights tribunal, the company won’t comment further.

Last month, WestJet Airlines Ltd. filed an appeal after the Supreme Court of British Columbia refused to throw out a proposed class-action lawsuit that accuses the company of fostering a corporate culture that tolerates harassment against female employees.

Former flight attendant Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination, accusing her former employer of breaking its promise to provide a harassment-free workplace for women.

The Canadian Press

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