Yaniv v Various Waxing Salons

 

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Yaniv v Various Waxing Salons

The Justice Centre represented five British Columbian estheticians this year at the BC Human Rights Tribunal. Three estheticians faced complaints that proceeded to litigation, for declining to perform waxing services for a trans-identifying individual who possesses male genitalia. Two complaints were withdrawn.

The first complaint hearing against Blue Heaven Beauty Lounge and its owner, Mrs. Sandeep Banipal, proceeded on July 4, 2019. Banipal and her husband are adherents to the Sikh religion. Ms. Banipal is not trained to wax male genitals, and for religious and personal reasons is not comfortable doing so. Blue Heaven Beauty Lounge does not advertise waxing services for male genitalia. “It is not something I am comfortable or trained to do,” explained Banipal in her response to the complaint.

Banipal received notice of a complaint filed against her in March of 2018 by Jessica Yaniv, whose identity was briefly protected by the Tribunal’s anonymity Order. The complaint stateed that Yaniv requested an appointment for a “Brazilian” and the request was declined. Yaniv’s complaint cited discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression, in violation of section 8 of the BC Human Rights Code.

The Justice Centre also defended another esthetician, Mrs. Sukhi Hehar Gill. When Hehar received Yaniv’s request for waxing services on the Complainant’s arms and legs, Hehar was providing her services only by way of house calls, where she attended alone to female clients only. A practicing Sikh, Hehar is opposed to travelling to a client’s house if the client, apart from a given gender identity, is biologically male. “It is contrary to my faith,” explained Hehar in her response to Yaniv’s complaint.

In addition, on July 17, 2019, the Justice Centre represented Marcia Carnauba, another esthetician who declined Yaniv’s request to perform waxing services because Carnauba does not have the requisite training, tools or comfort level to perform waxing services on male genitalia.

In total, Yaniv has filed more than 12 complaints against Vancouver-area estheticians, over their refusal to provide waxing services on biologically male genitalia. .

In a May 30, 2019 ruling in Yaniv v. Various Waxing Salons, the BC Human Rights Tribunal expressed its concern about the “rights” of transgender women to access “gender affirming” care such as waxing, which the Tribunal said is “critical,” even if this is “a very intimate service that is sometimes performed by women who are themselves vulnerable.” The Tribunal stated that Yaniv has a “genuine grievance” about “pervasive discrimination against transgender women,” and this “is the reason that the Tribunal exists.”

The Tribunal stated further that it is “troubled that some of Yaniv’s comments, made within this process and online,” suggest that Yaniv “holds stereotypical and negative views about immigrants to Canada.” The Tribunal stated that “on their face, many of the businesses which Yaniv complains against appear to be run by people who speak English as a second language and/or are racialized women.”

Each of the three hearings commenced at 10:00 a.m. on July 4, 5, and 17 at the BC Human Rights Tribunal, 1170-605 Robson Street, Vancouver. The hearings were open to the public.

On October 22, 2019, the Justice Centre was pleased to announce that BC Human Rights Tribunal ruled in favour of home estheticians’ right to refuse to handle male genitalia against their will. The decision noted, “human rights legislation does not require a service provider to wax a type of genitals they are not trained for and have not consented to wax.” The decision further found that the complainant Jessica Yaniv “engaged in improper conduct”, “filed complaints for improper purposes”, and concluded Yaniv’s testimony was “disingenuous and self-serving.” Finally, noted the Tribunal, Yaniv was “evasive and argumentative and contradicted herself” while giving evidence.

A publication ban had identified Yaniv only as JY for most of the proceedings until the estheticians successfully brought an application to have it lifted.

The Tribunal ordered costs against Yaniv in the amount of $2000.00 payable to each of Ms. Benipal, Ms. DaSilva, and Mrs. Hehar Gill.

“Self-identification does not erase physiological reality,” stated Jay Cameron, the Justice Centre’s Litigation Manager, and counsel for the estheticians. “Our clients do not offer the service requested. No woman should be compelled to touch male genitals against her will, irrespective of how the owner of the genitals identifies.”

On November 13, 2019, the BC Human Rights Tribunal released written reasons denying Yaniv’s application for reconsideration of the decision dismissing Yaniv’s complaints and the costs imposed on Yaniv.

 


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