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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Alta. man's fight for beard heads to human-rights commission

Five years after launching a human-rights complaint against oilsands giant Syncrude Canada, a devout Sikh man who refused to shave his beard for work has won the right to have his full case heard.

A ruling released Tuesday by the Alberta Court of Appeal clears the way for electrician Devinder Wadhwa to have his overdue hearing before the provincial Human Rights and Citizenship Commission.

"The legislative scheme must be read to further the goal of speedy and inexpensive resolution of human-rights complaints," Court of Appeal Justice Ronald Berger wrote on behalf of the three-member panel. "(Syncrude's) appeal . . . was premature."

Wadhwa was working as an electrician in 2003 when he arrived on the Syncrude work site in Fort McMurray, Alta., which is about 430 kilometres north of Edmonton.

He was asked if he was prepared to shave his beard to wear a standard mask, and he explained that his religious beliefs prevented him from doing so. He provided an alternative mask and asked the company to accommodate him, but it refused. [Link]

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