Human rights tribunal dismisses complaint against Lululemon over mask policy

Nov 22 2021, 9:41 pm

A BC tribunal has dismissed a human rights complaint filed against Lululemon Athletica over its mandatory mask-wearing policy in response to COVID-19.

On November 2020, the complainant, Yvonne Coehlo, entered a Lululemon store without wearing a face mask. According to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal Decision, staff advised her she could not shop in‐store without a mask, to which Coehlo responded saying she had a medical “exemption” for mask wearing.

Coehlo claimed Lululemon discriminated against her when they barred her from shopping indoors without a mask. She said she had “a medical condition that enhances my stress response and leads to an increased risk of panic attack, namely anxiety and risk of panic attack due to claustrophobia.”

Based on this, her naturopathic doctor issued her a medical note saying she has an “exemption” from wearing a mask.

“Essentially, Ms. Coelho is seeking her perfect accommodation–to shop freely in‐person at Lululemon’s stores without having to wear a mask, at a time when the Province had declared a State of Emergency over a respiratory virus about which little was yet known,” wrote Emily Ohler, BC Human Rights Tribunal chair.

Ohler noted that there were weakness in Coehlo’s case against the athletic apparel company. Her claim that she had a disability-related barrier to mask-wearing was paired with a vague note from her doctor, according to the decision.

The staff also gave Coehlo the options to shop either online or outside the store.

“Ms. Coelho says, among other things, ‘I enjoy in‐person browsing, shopping, touching fabrics, fitting items, conversing with the staff, and having the in-store experience.’ That Ms. Coelho may have preferred in‐store browsing does not make Lululemon’s accommodation proposals inherently unreasonable,” wrote Ohler.

Daily Hive has reached out to Lululemon for comment.


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