Victory for BC aesthetician who faced human rights complaint for refusal to perform waxing service on transwoman

Posted on Sep 17, 2018 in Justice Update, Latest Updates, News Releases

The Justice Centre is pleased to announce the vindication of its clients, British Columbian aesthetician Shelah Poyer and her boyfriend Jeremy Paradis.  The Human Rights complaint which had been filed against Ms. Poyer and Mr. Paradis for Poyer’s declining to perform waxing services on a transwoman has been formally withdrawn.

In March of 2018, the Complainant responded to an advertisement posted on Facebook by Poyer advertising her waxing service. The Complainant asked Poyer if she performs “Brazilians”, which is a waxing of the female groin area. Poyer responded, “Not for men sorry”. Poyer was aware that the procedure for a Brazilian waxing is  not used for men; rather men receive “Manzilians”(also called “Bro-zilians”) waxes, which utilizes a different wax and a different method than that used for Brazilian waxes. Poyer does not have the requisite supplies to wax male genitalia, nor has she received the requisite training to provide this service. As such, she is unqualified and unable to provide the service.

The complainant phoned Poyer’s former employer (also named as a respondent in the case), the following day asking to speak with Poyer to continue the conversation about why she was unable to provide the service for the Complainant. Ms. Poyer declined to speak further with the Complainant, not wishing to enter into further controversy.

On March 12, 2018, the complainant submitted a complaint to the BC Human Rights Tribunal against Shelah Poyer, her boyfriend, and Shelah’s former employer on grounds that they discriminated against the complainant on the basis of gender identity and expression. The Complainant sought $2,500 in damages.

A conference call with the BC Human Rights Tribunal was held Wednesday September 5, to deal with some procedural issues prior to the trial that was scheduled for October.  During that call, Justice Centre lawyer Jay Cameron informed the Tribunal that he intended to make an application to lift the confidentiality requirements that had been placed on this case, because the Complainant regularly identifies as a woman in public as the woman-only gym the Complainant attends, and on the internet, and that there was no valid reason to make an exception to the presumption that the Tribunal’s process be open and transparent. Cameron also confirmed that he had retained an expert for the trial in October who provides  male waxing, or “manzilians”, and who would give evidence at the hearing that waxing a scrotum and testicles requires a different technique than a “Brazilian” for women, and also requires special supplies and training. Statements made by the Complainant confirm the Complainant has intact male genitalia.

When the Complainant learned that Shelah Poyer, with the help of the Justice Centre, was mounting a vigorous defence to the complaint, the Complainant demanded that Cameron be removed as Poyer’s lawyer. This demand was refused. Shortly thereafter the Complainant submitted a “Withdrawal of Complaint” form to the Tribunal.

On September 10, 2018, the BC Human Rights Tribunal notified Ms. Poyer that the complaint had been formally withdrawn. The complaint against Poyer’s former employer, Mint Tanning Lounge, continues.