Emploi-Québec response not good enough for woman harassed over hijab

A West Island woman who was harassed at an Emploi-Québec office because of her hijab says she isn't satisfied with the government's response.
Aisha Forsythe, whose face CBC agreed to conceal, says she may file a human rights complaint after being allegedly harrassed at a government office for wearing a hijab. (CBC)

A West Island woman who was harassed at an Emploi-Québec office because of her hijab says she isn't satisfied with the government's response.

Aisha Forsythe said the government told her it has resolved her complaint, but she's frustrated because the employment ministry is refusing to offer any details about how it plans to address the issue.

Forsythe visited the Emploi-Québec office on St-Jean Boulevard last month to get help looking for work.

She said a counsellor there instead focused on her hijab.

Forsythe said she was told she had made a choice to "live in a ghetto" and that she would need to go to an "Arab country" to find work.

Ministry says the case is being handled

Forsythe filed a formal complaint, and she said she heard back from the ministry last week.

"The only thing they could tell me is that they were going to handle it, to make sure that it never happens again, and that's basically all they could say."

Forsythe said no one apologized, or explained what — if any — discipline the employee in question might face.

She said she was told her complaint was closed and she would not hear from the ministry again.

That's not good enough for Forsythe.

"I just think it was a terrible thing that happened and I can't imagine it didn't happen to other people as well, so I would just like to see something change, some way of ensuring it doesn't continue."

A spokesperson for the employment ministry said it takes such complaints seriously.

He said the ministry does not comment on internal disciplinary matters.

Forsythe said she intends to proceed with a complaint to Quebec's Human Rights Commission. She said she's lost confidence in Emploi-Québec, and will not return to the office for help.
 

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