Suspended Muslim woman offered a compromise

A woman suspended for wearing a too-long skirt has been offered an alternative position while federal agency reviews hemline policy

A Muslim woman, who was suspended without pay from her baggage-screening job at Toronto's Pearson International Airport this summer for wearing a skirt that was 12 inches longer than regulation, has been offered an alternative position while the skirt policy is being reviewed.

Halima Muse, 33, was suspended on Aug. 11 after an operations manager noticed she was wearing an ankle-length skirt instead of the standard-issue, knee-length skirt.

Muse had worked for private security firm Garda at the airport for five years, wearing slacks instead of a skirt, but was ill at ease because the slacks showed the curve of her body and did not conform with Islam's requirement for modest dress.

Muse made her own ankle-length skirt out of the same material as the uniform and wore it for nearly seven months before being suspended for failing to conform with official regulations.

After Muse filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission on Nov. 16 alleging discrimination, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), which contracts out to Garda, announced it will review the hemline policy.

Garda has agreed to offer Muse a full-time administrative job in civillian attire at her previous salary and pay her back-wages from the date of her suspension.

Muse will have the new position until CATSA completes its review, which is expected to take awhile, said a CATSA spokesperson.

"It's important to stress the importance of the uniform and uniformity. The reason it was rolled out was to have a credible and professional corporate identity," said Anna-Karina Tabunar.

"We're treating it not just as an issue of a new skirt, we're treating it as a broader issue, a policy issue."

The current dress code allows women to wear a hijab and men can wear turbans and kippas.

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