Three Muslim workers in Edmonton have launched a human rights complaint against one of Canada’s largest petroleum company for their “wrongful termination” because of “Islamophobia”.
Amino Rashid, along-with two former colleagues, claim that they were fired by the Newcart Contracting Ltd on the same days, May 31 and June 3, when they had reported two separate anti-Muslim incidents at Husky Energy’s upgrader in Llyodminster.
“I was shocked, because usually in a situation like that you fire the person who was the one who was being the bully,” Rashid said. “You don’t fire the victim. You don’t fire the person who was trying to stand up for themselves.”
Speaking to CBC News about the incident, Rashid recalled feeling stunned when a colleague initiated an anti-Hijab tirade directed at her. Referring to her hijab as a “hoodie”, the man said that “if he doesn’t get to wear a hoodie then I’m not allowed to wear it either”.
The York University student said she tried to educate him about her religion, explaining that it was a religious practice to cover one’s head but stopped when she realised he was not interested. “And I told him it’s not a hoodie; it’s a religious head scarf.”
“I wanted to just go home and cry,” said Rashid. “For somebody to just be so disrespectful and not even care at all, it’s inhumane.”
Despite reporting his behaviour, Rashid claims he continued to harass her, adding that another colleague told her to “take that thing off” as it made people “uncomfortable”, just three days after the incident.
The 24-year-old says she was told that both Husky and Newcart did not have a problem with her hijab when she was hired. Hence when the dismissal by Newcart managers came, she was shocked.
An audio recording of the termination reveals a tense situation. “We’re starting to cut back on people,” a supervisor can be heard saying. “It was randomly selected that it turned out to be you guys.”
“Did you just throw all the names in a basket and just pull out names?” Rashid asked.
“No,” he answered. “I went over to the sign-on and I poked at names and that’s who I get.”
When Rashid continued to ask questions, the supervisor shut her off. “This conversation’s over. You were eligible for re-employment for the next shutdown but because of how you’re acting now, you’re not. So what Chad said was about hoodies and he didn’t realise that.”
“He knows what it is, he’s just being ignorant,” said Rashid. “You’re seriously telling me in 2017 he doesn’t know what a Muslim female looks like?”
For Rashid, losing the job means she lose her housing and miss next semester at the university as she cannot afford it. “Losing this job has derailed my life and possibly my future.”
“I wish I could just put them in my shoes and show them how it feels for something like that to happen to you,” said Rashid. “That’s why I’m speaking up right now because it’s wrong and I’m not going to tolerate it.”
Rashid and her colleague then filed complaints with the Alberta Human Rights Commissions and Husky Energy.
Responding to an inquiry by CBC News, Husky Energy said they had launched an investigation. “Given the seriousness of these allegations, we will be investigating with the contractor to ensure all of Husky’s policies and procedures were being followed,” wrote spokesperson Mel Duvall.
He said Husky required all contractors to comply with its workplace diversity policy, adding that the Lloydminster maintenance project is now ending and all temporary contractors are leaving the site.
Newcart has declined to comment but released a statement that said the company “accommodates the religious requirements of our employees whenever possible and practical for the workplace and health and safety requirements of the worksite, the workplace policies of [Husky] and most importantly the provincial and federal health and safety statutes and regulations.”
This article originally appeared on the CBC News.
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