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Montreal, July 28, 2016 —The case of a Muslim mother who was told by a sales clerk at Costco, to “go back to your home country” will proceed to investigation after mediation failed last week.

In October 2015, Ms. Asma Al-Shawarghi, a Muslim who wears a hijab, went to the Costco store on Acadie Blvd., in Ville Saint-Laurent (a West-end municipality on the Island of Montreal). She was with her two children, aged 2 and 7, and her husband’s aunt.

She was checking Rudsak winter coats and their prices, and asked a female sale clerk, a Québécoise in her fifties, whether the coat she wanted to buy was warm enough for weather of -40 C. The sales representative coldly replied in English that there was no coat that could keep a person warm in -40 C weather, and that “at -40 C, one stays home.”

Then, the sales clerk told Al-Shawarghi, “If you don’t like that, go back to your country.” Stunned by the out-of-the-blue comment, Al-Shawarghi replied that Canada is her country and that she is Canadian citizen. The sales representative ignored her and served another customer. Still taken back from the comment, Al-Shawarghi walked away with her two children, extremely upset.

After several communications with Costco and Rudsak about the incident that did not bring the results she hoped for, Al-Shawarghi mandated CRARR to file a complaint on her behalf, seeking moral and punitive damages and demanding that Costco take all necessary means to prevent this situation in the future by obliging all staff and subcontracted vendors on its property to abide by its antidiscrimination policy.

As well, CRARR will seek to ensure that Costco’s customer service is better equipped to address complaints of this nature in a more effective manner, since there was no information about customer or member complaint on Costco’s website.

Mediation to attempt to resolve the complaint was held on July 20 at the Commission, but the parties failed to achieve consensus. Consequently, the case will go to investigation. Also, the complaint will be amended to cite as co-Respondent Personnel Pro-P, the employer of the sales representative in question and a company subcontracted by Rudsak.