Jul. 26, 2004

Cross-dressing protest switches gears
Food inspector angry that women may retire earlier with full benefits

MONTREAL (CP) A City of Montreal food inspector has dropped his dress in favour of a long dark wig to protest against his employer's ``discriminatory" pension program.

Patrick Le Lann wore the rock star-style wig while inspecting food kiosks Sunday at Peruvian celebrations in a municipal park.

The 50-year-old single father of two received a written reprimand recently after wearing a dress to work. He took the dramatic step to protest against a clause in the city's collective agreement that allows women hired before 1983 to retire after 25 years of service. Men are required to work 30 years before receiving full pension benefits.

Le Lann was threatened by the city with further disciplinary action if he donned the dress again. So he chose instead to wear the wig.

"Today, I put on a wig. I don't usually wear one. I should have that right, women do," he told Le Journal de Montreal.

"If they tell me that having hair affects the department's credibility, I don't know where it will go."