Starbucks barista to take mask complaint to Alberta Human Rights Commission

The store had a mandatory masking policy for staff, but she asked for an exemption, saying wearing a mask aggravated a pre-existing medical condition

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A Starbucks barista will have her case heard after winning her appeal to the Alberta Human Rights Commission following the initial dismissal of her complaint about the chain’s masking policy.

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Dana Tartal worked at an unspecified location in April 2020, but filed a complaint against the company after being told she would have to wear a mask when coming to work.

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His complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission was initially dismissed, but, in a decision of September 15Commission member Karen Scott found that Starbucks might have done more to accommodate her.

“I do not mean to suggest that the Respondent would not have suffered undue hardship in accommodating the Complainant,” Scott’s decision states.

“The complete absence of any evidence or explanation as to the nature and extent of the harm that the Complainant’s accommodation would have caused gives me pause.”

The store had a mandatory masking policy for staff, but Tartal asked for an exemption, saying wearing a mask aggravated a pre-existing medical condition.

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The company denied that request, saying his job “involved near-constant close contact with other employees as well as serving food and drink to customers.”

A pack of non-medical masks.
A pack of non-medical masks. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

He argued there was nowhere she could safely work in isolation, although she said precautions like plexiglass or designated workstations might have sufficed.

Confirming his call, Scott noted that some of these measures had already been introduced by the coffee chain.

Tartal’s complaint will be referred and dealt with by the head of the commission and the courts.

Efforts to contact Tartal for comment were unsuccessful.

Whitecourt Hockey Complaint

On the same day as the Starbucks decision, the commission also dismissed an appeal from a person of the same name who had filed a complaint against the Whitecourt Minor Hockey Association.

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In early November 2020, the association announced that all spectators, parents and coaches must wear masks.

“We cannot jeopardize the whole association because of a few who break the rules,” the association’s policy said.

Tartal sought accommodation for her child who played on one of the teams as well as for herself, later offering a medical note from a general family doctor on Denman Island, British Columbia, a community less than 1,200 people off the east coast of Vancouver Island. .

The charity offered to allow her to wear a face shield rather than a mask and for her child to use a separate entrance, but insisted social distancing was enough.

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In a three-hour email exchange, the association explained that a complaint had been filed with AHS and that it was under pressure to keep its ice rental contract.

“We could be canceled today if things don’t improve.”

The trade ended with Tartal removing his child from the team. She was then reimbursed a proportion in proportion to the fees she had paid to the association.

In a separate decisionScott sided with the association and dismissed the complaint, saying that Tartal had “firmly refused to accept any accommodation other than that which she had offered”.

“The plaintiff would ask other players, coaches, officials, spectators and parents to accept the risk of contracting COVID-19.”

Scott concluded there was “no reasonable basis” for the complaint to proceed and upheld the decision to dismiss it.


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