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Black Host Wins Damages After Montreal Chain Restaurant Banned Her Hairstyle [Updated]

But the restaurant has avoided paying up

Madisons Restaurant & Bar/Facebook

Update (March 25, 2019): Global News reports that Madisons, the restaurant accused of racial discrimination, has not paid damages for which it was found liable. Back in December, Quebec’s Human Rights Commission found that a former server was justified in a discrimination complaint on the basis of race and gender after the owner of a Madisons on Drummond Street allegedly berated server Lettia McNickle for wearing cornrows at work.

Because Madisons did not pay up by a deadline in late December, the case can now proceed to Quebec’s Human Rights Tribunal, which has greater authority to enforce a verdict. Discussions between McNickle, her lawyers, and the restaurant have been ongoing, despite the failure for Madisons to comply with the earlier ruling.

Quebec’s Human Rights Commission has ordered a downtown Montreal chain restaurant to pay over $14,000 in damages to a former host after a racial discrimination case.

According to the Gazette (among other outlets), a ruling was handed down last week against Madisons New York Grill & Bar. In 2014, that host, Lettia McNickle, who is black, was reportedly sent home for wearing her hair braided into cornrows. Her mother, a hairdresser, had braided McNickle’s hair herself. Because cornrows are a traditionally black hairstyle, this formed the basis for the discrimination complaint — the dress code for Madisons also does not forbid braids.

McNickle said the owner, Roulla Kyriacou, publicly berated her over her hairstyle, and her hours were eventually cut until she was terminated in 2015.

The host also said she faced other peculiar rules, for example, that she couldn’t wear pants, while others in the same role were permitted to do so.

According to reports from 2015, when the story first entered the news, the Drummond Street restaurant entered mediation with McNickle but backed out, which prompted the drawn-out Human Rights Commission case, which was handled by Quebec’s Centre for Research Action on Race Relations.