Saturday, July 17, 2010

CBC News - Ottawa - Ottawa barbershop to serve all after complaint

CBC News - Ottawa - Ottawa barbershop to serve all after complaint

Imperial Barber Shop announced Friday evening that it will offer its services to everyone at its Glebe location after an Ottawa woman complained she was refused a haircut there.

Co-owner Nancee Hunter said in a release that the barbershop on Bank Street has received an amendment to its lease that her business partner said forbid the shop from cutting women's hair. It will now offer services to all customers at the location as it has been doing at all its other Ottawa locations.

Hunter says the shop "regrets the circumstances leading to CBC's report."

Last month, Jayda Kelsall said she was riding her bike along Bank Street when a sign promising a cheap haircut caught her eye.

She said she went inside the Imperial Barber Shop and was told to go somewhere else.

"I was pretty shocked," she told CBC News. "I have really short hair. I have a mohawk. I was just looking for the sides to be shaved a little bit and trimmed up, and they flat out said no."

Imperial co-owner Gilles Lemenoise said his staff turned women away all the time.

Pointing to the hair salon above his barbershop, he said Thursday that to avoid competition his landlord bans him from cutting women's hair.

But the landlord, Minto Group, said Imperial misinterpreted the agreement.

"However, exactly it's written in the lease I don't know," said Greg Rogers, executive vice-president. "But the spirit of the agreement is that he deliver men's-style haircuts."

It doesn't matter whether a man or woman gets the cut, but it has to be a men's style, Rogers said.

Ottawa human rights lawyer Nigel McCready said it is a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code to deny someone service based on gender, whether or not the landlord has a contract with a business owner.

"The rights that are enshrined there are important enough that you shouldn't be able to make a private agreement that you're going to disregard someone's human rights," said McCready.

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