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Air Canada Workers Allege Human Rights Violations

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A human rights violation complaint has been filed against Air Canada by the union representing the airline's flight attendants, alleging "systemic discrimination and harassment" of its members.

The Air Canada Component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees or CUPE said it decided to file a human rights complaint after reports of inappropriate behavior were not dealt with appropriately by Air Canada. CUPE represents 8,500 flight attendants at Air Canada mainline and Rouge.

"Our complaint states that Air Canada, through its policies, procedures and practices, fosters harassment and discrimination in the workplace, and this must stop now," said CUPE's Air Canada Component Vice-President Beth Mahan.

CUPE's Air Canada Component has alleged that Air Canada's policies on uniforms and makeup, including 'modelling' of uniforms, are discriminatory towards female flight attendants on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and race.

Further, the complaint accuses the airline's new onboard service managers or OBSMs, who perform in-flight assessments of flight attendants categorized as service directors, of causing fear and intimidation in the workplace.

The union alleges that many OBSMs have made sexist, racist and homophobic remarks to and about service directors and flight attendants. They are also alleged to have engaged in "inappropriate behaviour" towards flight attendants of both sexes. According to the complaint, many OBSM evaluations have resulted in service directors being demoted.

CUPE's Air Canada Component said it has asked the Canadian Human Rights Commission to order an overall review of Air Canada's policies, procedures and practices in relation to harassment, and to eliminate the OBSM program.

In January, WestJet Airline Ltd. (WJA.TO) filed an appeal after the Supreme Court of British Columbia refused to throw out a proposed class action lawsuit against the Canadian airline that involves claims of workplace sexual harassment.

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