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Human Rights Commission investigates racial discrimination at Madisons

MONTREAL – A former hostess from Madisons Bar & Grill is stepping up the fight against the restaurant over allegations of racial discrimination.

Lettia McNickle first turned to Global News last March, claiming she lost hours of work at Madisons’ downtown location because of her braided hair.

The story was shared on social media, leading the 20-year-old to receive messages of support from around the world and an official apology from the company.

READ MORE: Madisons issues apology following allegations of racism

But when Madisons’ lawyers cancelled mediation with McNickle last month, it fuelled her fight for justice.

“First they had rescheduled and then they had cancelled so that was two times so I was like ‘they’re really not taking this as seriously as they’re supposed to,'” said McNickle.

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The Quebec Human Rights Commission has now launched an investigation, and the complaint was recently amended to target both Madisons’ head office and McNickle’s former boss.

“We’re not only fighting the restaurant, now we’re fighting her as an individual as well so we’re going against both,” insisted McNickle.

The downtown location’s restaurant owners weren’t available for comment on Monday.

The head office refused Global News’ request for an interview stating: “Madisons (head office) is not directly involved in this matter as we are not the employer of Ms. McNickle.”

The Centre for Research Action on Race Relations (CRARR) is spearheading McNickle’s case, which could now take another two years to resolve.

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“There’s a gender dimension, there’s a racial dimension and that’s why the case is very interesting and possibly one of the first cases of its kind in the city,” said Fo Niemi, CRARR director.

READ MORE: Young black Montrealer claims she’s losing work over her hair

The hope is that this case will help address what is believed to be a widespread problem.

“We hope to examine the whole issue of dress and appearance required for women working in high end restaurants, and particularly black women,” said Niemi.

Despite the fact that an investigation could drag the case on for another few years, Lettia Mcnickle insisted giving up the fight is out of the question.

“A lot of people are depending on me to go through with this, to stand up and keep it going,” she told Global News.

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