News

Muslim hairdresser’s ‘hurt feelings’ leads to a £4,000 payout

GHASTLY news – the owner of a London hair salon has been ordered to pay £4,000 compensation to a Muslim stylist who was turned down for a job because she wears a headscarf. (See earlier Freethinker report here).

Bushra Noah accused Sarah Desrosiers of religious discrimination when she failed to offer her a job at her Wedge salon in King’s Cross, central London, last year – and yesterday, according to the BBC, an employment tribunal awarded her the cash after finding that she had been the victim of “indirect discrimination.”

The 19-year-old wanted a whole lot more: £35,000 in fact, but the tribunal rejected her religious discrimination claim.

Desrosiers said she needed stylists to showcase alternative hairstyles – but, as the photo shows – Noah is a far cry from trendiness personified.

During the hearing Noah, who lives in Acton, west London, told the tribunal that she was “devastated” that she was not offered the job of assistant stylist “due to my headscarf”.

Desrosiers, 32, told the panel that Ms Noah lived too far away, but was persuaded to give her an interview in May last year.

When the applicant arrived for the interview she claimed the Canadian-born salon owner was clearly shocked by the fact she wore a headscarf.

Said Desrosiers after the verdict:

I never in a million years dreamt that somebody would be completely against the display of hair and be in this industry. I don’t feel I deserve it.

She added that she expected expected her staff to reflect the “funky, urban” image of her salon.

The panel found that Ms Noah had been badly upset by the 15-minute interview, and awarded her £4,000 damages for “injury to feelings”.

In its judgment, the panel stated:

We were satisfied by the respondent’s evidence that the claimant was not treated less favourably than the respondent would have treated a woman who, whether Muslim or not, for a reason other than religious belief wears a hair covering at all times when at work.

It added:

There was no specific evidence before us as to what would (for sure) have been the actual impact of the claimant working in her salon with her head covered at all times.

Noah originally wanted £15,000, but upped that to £35,000 after claiming that her action against Desrosiers had resulted in her receiving hate mail.

Earlier at the hearing Desrosiers said she faced financial ruin if she lost, but that she did not regret her decision. And she pointed out that she could not be blamed for the hate mail.

Noah has refused to comment on the matter.

With free money like this available, don’t be surprised to see lengthy queues of Muslims suffering “hurt feelings” forming outside lawyers’ offices throughout the land.

BREAKING NEWS: Benidorm star Johnny Vegas had his feelings hurt when he was turned down for a job modelling sexy men’s briefs. He is suing Calvin Klein for thousands. No, not really, just pointing out how ludicrous the Bushra Noah case was.

UPDATE: The case has set Nullifidian wondering what other unsuitable jobs for Muslims they might apply for, then sue if they fail to get them. Nullidian has come up with a very amusing list.

31 responses to “Muslim hairdresser’s ‘hurt feelings’ leads to a £4,000 payout”

  1. Roger says:

    Oh good grief ! It just gets sillier and sillier. Perhaps it’s time that sane people (i.e. atheists and those odd few religious believers who have a modicum of common sense – there aren’t many of them tho) should start a fund to help those who are vicitms of religious stupidity. The fight for sanity has to start somewhere, before we’re all drowned in the sea of religious fundamentalism (with the emphasis on MENTAL) that is washing over our daily lives.

    Atheists need to form their own group – not like the National Secular society, which does great work but is trying not to tread on the toes of personal religion, but something more akin to a anti-religious church (if that’s not too oxymoronic for you) that stands for it’s members with the same weight and authority as the religious superstructures stand for their believers.

    Only if Atheists stand tall and shout will we be heard – and then perhaps we can start to return common sense and decency to what is becoming an increasingly ridculous country. Still – at least we’re not America (sorry to you poor, beleaguered atheist Americans, but oh boy, your country is MAD !!)…well, not yet !

    Rog

  2. Valdemar says:

    I’m inclined to agree with Rog, this is bloody ridiculous. Though it would be very funny indeed if a Muslim applied to be Pope, or archibishop of Canterbury, and then sued because they were rejected on religious grounds.

  3. nullifidian says:

    This is, simply, completely fucking ridiculous.

    They needed a stylist/model, and she’s (apparently, although I find it difficult to believe) a stylist only. She wasn’t capable of doing the job (seeing as she’d barred herself from the other part of it by her choice of religion).

    This basically opens the floodgates for any religious whacko with an axe to grind to make a pain in the arse of themselves with unwitting employers.

  4. Milliner says:

    Hurt feelings? We don’t have those in America. Your feelings don’t concern me.

  5. Marcus says:

    I wonder if anyone has set up a fund in support of Sarah Desrosiers. I would certainly contribute a few quid. And if anyone sets up a collection to buy Bushra Noah a burqua, I would gladly contribute to that as well. I never want to see that bloody woman’s face ever again

  6. Stuart H. says:

    I’m applying for the pope’s job.
    If I don’t get it I could always sue the bastards for all the nazi war gold that’s rumoured to be sitting in the Vatican Bank, only as it doesn’t have to abide by the usual banking rules no-one can get in to check.

  7. Mekatrig says:

    Do you think this Jewish boy can apply for a Job in a supermarket, then demand that they stop selling pork products as it offends my religious sensibilities. When they refuse I sue them for a couple of million. Free money like this is enough to give anyone religion !!!!
    Any one up for a class action?

  8. lizzy says:

    um…if she doesn’t believe in displaying her own hair, what the hell is she doing in an industry that is…well…all about displaying hair? durr!!!

  9. […] I said in an earlier post, this is case – which should never have come before a tribunal – is bound to open the […]

  10. duh says:

    obviously this woman is a scam artist using her religion to do it. we have plenty of these in america called “politicians”. the one thing we dont have is a hurt feeings law. and thats about all we got…

  11. max says:

    you guys are assholes
    I’m mean, I’m an atheist, but I don’t think it appropriate to insult someone for their choice of belief. To do so is to perpetrate the same close-mindedness that originally drove me belief in god. And how about Noah. What does she want with the industry? So part of her cultural heritage requires a degree of modesty, but she obviously doesn’t hold the lack of a shared sentiment from the majority culture she lives in. She is willing to accept the differences in cultures, appreciate them and has a desire to work within an industry that celebrates something that she personally is prohibited from. My question is: how were her skills as a hairdresser rated before she was turned down for the job? Were they? In a 15 minute interview? And “we don’t have hurt feelings in America” ? Way to speak for 2 FUCKING continents asshole. I assume you live in the United States, a country were a burglar can sue a home owner for injuries sustained while robbing the persons house. To me, being an atheist means I believe in no higher power, only humanity. I’ll get upset over religious beliefs intruding into the lives of others in a forceful manner, but to shit on someone for their difference of opinion is low, unenlightened, and rude. In a free society, if someone feels they been done an injustice, they have a right to challenge it in a court of law, and that is what she did. Does society benefit if a minority population is afraid to challenge injustice? Or does it decline into a tyranny of the majority?

  12. max says:

    excuse the typos, I am aware:
    “drove me [from] belief in god”
    “lack of shared sentiment [against] the majority…”
    I think I missed an apostrophe in there, or two…as well.

  13. Mark McInnes says:

    I think Max, that you’ve somewhat missed the point. Ms Desrosiers was manifestly NOT insulting someone for her choice of religion. It is an unfortunate coincidence that Ms Noah’s religion prevents her from showing her hair. But that, the revealing of hair, was the issue here, and as Ms Desrosiers stated, she would have felt the same about an employee who refused to show their hair for personal reasons (e.g. wore a baseball cap all the time). The tribunal agreed that Ms Desrosiers had not been guilty of any direct religious discrimination. The case should have ended there, as an employer has the right to refuse employment to someone who doesn’t fit the ethos of the company provided it is not on the basis of certain criteria which are covered by discrimination law (i.e. sex, race, religion, sexuality, disability). In other words, a conservative bank can refuse to employ a punk with blue hair. The issue of ‘indirect discrimination’ is what is so crazy here. According to the tribunal, Ms Desrosiers did not sufficiently prove that displaying one’s hair is an essential part of a hairdressing business, and thereby discriminated indirectly against Muslim women. There was no need to test her hairdressing skills, as one imagines that the impression her image gave made it clear she was not the right person for the job unless she was willing to change her image, which she clearly said she was not. The only mistake Ms Desrosiers made was to be honest enough to ask about the headscarf. If she’d just said, ‘sorry love, you’re not right for a punk salon’ (something that was painfully obvious) she’d never have been sued. The crucial point here is this: Ms Desrosiers did not discriminate on the basis of religion, she discriminated on the basis of fashion, which is her prerogative. And it is not her fault, nor her responsibility, that Ms Noah’s religion blurs the two. This case is absurd and has unfortunately but predictably galvanised anti-Muslim bigots. But the only ‘injustice’ done here is against Ms Desrosiers.

  14. Mark M says:

    And while I’m at it, this ‘indirect discrimination’ notion is pretty far-reaching. A shop that insists on stocking items made of pig leather would thereby exclude those whose religion forbids touching pigskin. Does that mean that a handbag shop has to prove that stocking such items is absolutely necessary to its trade – or otherwise leave itself open to frivolous suits on the basis of ‘indirect’ discrimination? Doesn’t this amount to people of faith having a legal right to insist on others adapting their behaviour to suit them? Since when did religious faith become more important than individual freedom?

  15. max says:

    What’s with the constant comparison to the Jewish faith? And I wasn’t talking about Ms. Desrosiers insulting her for her faith, I was referring to other comments made on this article.
    And if you think that it took this lawsuit to galvanize anti-Muslim bigots then I wonder where you have been for the past decade. Being anti-Muslim is more acceptable than being anti-Semitic for Christ’s sweet sake.
    And on that subject, drawing ridiculous parallels that is (such as a Muslim applying for the job of Pope, or any-fucking-one applying for the job as it isn’t exactly a position that goes out on Craig’s List, but maybe a bunch of dumb brit’s with no concept of the Catholic faith don’t realize that), what if Noah was a cancer patient, needing a job t pay for chemo, and the job she’s trained for happens to be hairdressing? “No, I’m sorry, but your bald ass head is really going to turn costumers off.”
    Would any of the people reading this article have a problem with that? Or is it just that the people commenting on this board have an anti-religion bias as opposed to a belief in following the laws of man, which, as i said earlier, is the route Ms. Noah went, exercising her rights, by law, to challenge WHAT SHE FEELS IS INJUSTICE. I make no judgment on whether it is or not, that’s up to the FUCKING court, which decided it was worth 4000 pounds (I don’t have the symbol on my computer, being an ignorant U.S. citizen).
    Covering of hair is a matter modesty, not touching pork is a matter of the Jewish faith feeling it is dirty, like shellfish and women having periods. Refusing an Orthodox Jew a job that requires handling pork is the equivalent of refusing an Orthodox Jew a job as a gynecologist, in that they would NEVER apply for the job because it breaks their laws. I digress, this matter isn’t about Jews so let’s leave any comparison to an obviously DIFFREENT religion out of this discourse (Mekatrig/Mark), and Millinger/DUH, there are far more ridiculous lawsuits in the FUCKING UNITED STATES than this one. Arrogant pricks. and DUH, they’re not called “politicians” they’re called televangelist. Don’t have “hurt feelings” laws, what do you think affirmitive action is then.

  16. Mark M says:

    Max, fair point, but calm down. All the swearing and shouting is pretty incendiary in its own right. Ms Noah did use the law to make her case – my point is that the law, or in this case its interpretation, are flawed. If you agree that an Orthodox Jew would ‘never’ apply for a job handling pork, why on earth did an Orthodox Muslim apply for a job where, among other things, she’d have to wash the hair of men who weren’t related to her? And think about it: someone who was bald as the result of chemo has no control over their appearance – that is not the case with Ms Noah. I agree that a lot of the comments in response to this have been disproportionate, irrelevant and sometimes just outright bigoted, but you can understand that people find this case alarming and that concern is not entirely unfounded.

    Also, saying you make no judgement because that’s up to the court to decide seems at odds with your ability to make all sorts of other judgements. Why not try having an opinion on this actual case?

  17. Mark M says:

    And comparisons to ‘an obviously different religion’ are still relevant if they illustrate the point at hand – in fact more so, as the law against religious discrimination, indirect or otherwise, is not about any specific religion. In fact, if you aren’t allowed to compare things that are different, you can’t really do much comparing at all. Obviously.

    The only important fact is whether the two things being compared are of the same type. Like one religion and another religion (rather than a religion and, say, a potted palm). And the comparison I used with regards to indirect discrimination – which is the bit of the law i have a problem with – is apt. The point is that this ruling could be used to penalise employers who, as part of their business, reasonably require something of their staff which clashes with an employee’s personal beliefs. If you don’t like the Jewish analogy, fine – Jains are forbidden to kill any living creature. What if someone of that faith had to work in a restaurant and was expected to use surface sprays to clean the kitchens?

    No doubt this will provoke another aimless rant filled with unnecessary capitals.

  18. Suze says:

    Next a pet store will be sued for not hiring a Muslim who believes dogs are unclean.

  19. Alex Short says:

    I really disagree with the veridict given by the court, it seems ridiculous. Clearly, Desrosiers thought someone who could show their hair off would more of an asset to her salon than someone who cant (i.e.Noah). It’s noar personal choice to wear the headscarf, and thats why i think this is wrong, the law seems to be defending her personal choice not her individual rights. If the job interview were between a bald (through no falt of their own) but brilliant stylist and a rubbish stylist with hair and the bald stylist didnt get the job despite her better skill at the job, then i would say its discrimination but whats happened here is completly different.

  20. Absolutely ridiculous,
    that stupid muslim should accept the fact that she can either wear a head thing and not get a job or not wear it and get a job. The fact that she is sueing because she is choosing to wear a stupid head thing is outrageous.

    Ma get the gun

  21. one says:

    You lot are not freethinkers – you’re group thinkers – with the exception of a few. all religion is, is a way of life that people CHOOSE to live; you seem very hypocritical all shouting and swearing that you and only you know the TRUTH!! They (believers) dont respect me and want to kill me blah blah blah etc – So I hate them all and want to kill them too…blah blah blah. bunch of babies
    who (most of you) used to believe in GOD but due to not getting the things you prayed for began to stray and started to SEARCH FOR REASONS Why praying didn’t work and the only *logical* conclusion your limited worthless brains (mine too) can reach is that there is NO GOD – not surprising due to the way we have been nurtured/indoctrined (brainwashed) and taught how to think go back to nature – reflect on the creation Stars, trees, mountains, etc. you’ll know in your hearts you did BELIEVE. you only hate yourselves realy.

    Stop Cursing and realise what worth has an antheist into trying to convince others of their own beliefs – the same as all the other religions – if you are happy with the knowledge belief of no God belief of a worthless existence stop trying to SEEK comfort by others agreeing with you.

    ONLY GOD KNOWS OUR NATURE – THATS WHY WE TRY LISTEN TO HIM – WE ARE ALL LIKE SHEEP LIKE IT OR NOT>

    GOOD DAY
    PEACE

  22. Barry Duke says:

    @One. We welcome comments on this site, but ask that you stick to the topic, and not use this site to launch incoherent, nonsensical attacks on people who are clearly far more rational and intelligent than you are.

  23. Zack says:

    Barry Duke FTW

  24. Terry says:

    Well said, Mark McInnes

  25. Lea says:

    This will only encourage more and more muslims to drag people into court and suck the life and money out of their pockets, because of their “hurt feelings”.
    Muslim their feelings are NOT more important than other people’s feelings, so what about Ms Desrosiers feelings? How does she feel about what’s been done to her? She’s just trying to do her work as good as possible and the next thing she’s been dragged into court for doing nothing wrong and having to pay this bitch money, because ms Noah thinks she has the right to enforce *her* personal beliefs onto ms Desrosiers salon etiquette.
    What if she did give her the job? I bet the money hungry Noah would sue her, because the clients refused to put on a veil and she didn’t want to shake hands with the male clients and a kid entering the salon was eating a bifi saucage and..and,and!!!!
    It is endlessly absurd!! We need judges with backbone who can put their hoof down and not give in to these muslims unreasonable claims and cries for money and dhimmitude, otherwise it’s only going to get worse. If only our society wasn’t polluted with those moronic leftwinged cowards à la max than we could easily prevent Europe turning into Eurabia.

  26. cat says:

    First of all, Max is right.

    And Obviously Bushra Noah is passionate about this job, even if she chooses not to show off her hair to just anyone. To compare her to “ugly Betty” or an overweight underwear model is irrelevant. She should have been offered a fair opportunity to apply for the job. Just because she does not show her hair it does not mean she isn’t interested in fashion or hair. I have seen many Muslim women with a far better fashion sense than a mall clothing salesperson. And I have seen beautiful embroidered head pieces that a highly industrialized society could only dream of making.

    Chances are this is not the first time Bushra Noah has been turned down for a hair care job. This is not the same issue as having “bad hair” because, for all you know she could have very beautiful hair. If she presents herself in a professional manner and presents an attractive product, what is so wrong with hiring her? The returning customers would be enough self promoting.

    Imagine not getting a job at an eye-wear shop because you have good eyesight. Or being refused a job at an airline because you have dark hair, olive skin and brown eyes.

    In such a diverse world, it is ignorant to make broad generalizations.

    Food over-consumption is a choice too. Should all fat people be denied jobs in fashion? Should all skinny people be denied jobs in the supermarket?

    As a freethinker one must allow others their right to the same thing. I encourage others to think and use common sense. Image is temporary; Money is, too. Saying “those ___’s”, “those Muslims,” “those white people” “those Mexicans” or what have you, is not thinking.

    I am not saying anything profoundly unique here. Whatever, take what you will from it.

  27. Matt says:

    @Cat:

    I think you are missing one important part here. The job that Ms. Desrosiers was offering was a stylist/model position. Ms. Noah was only willing to perform one of these duties, so she was not considered for the position. Ms. Noah then used her religion to try to milk some money out of the situation, this is what is absurd about this type of case.

    If I was looking for a computer technician and one of the responsibilities was to man the cash register for part of his shift. Say someone came in who was a brilliant repair tech but absolutely refused to perform the other portion of the job, and made this absolutely clear before we started the interview. Would you think it was unfair for me not to consider them for the job?

    The bank example was another great example. How many account managers at conservative banks do you see with foot long blue mohawks? If someone with a foot long blue mohawk applied for an account manager position. How long do you think it would take for the judge (American BTW) to laugh at him and throw the case out?

    The only reason why this case was heard was it’s religious involvement. The reason why there was an award to the plaintiff was solely religious and or culturally based (as the Muslim community seems to get up in arms about anything even remotely related to them these days ie Denmark, the countless rallies calling for the US to stop hunting for Osama Bin Laden and just let the issue slide).

  28. Matt says:

    In addition:

    I would think that if the Muslim community created a fund for Ms. Derosiers to repay the money that was lost due to this frivolous law suit and misuse of their beliefs, that everyone would be happy here. But we all know that will never happen.

  29. Matt says:

    I really need to read an entire thread before I post. If someone would merge these posts I really wouldn’t mind.

    @Cat:

    Someone with good eyesight can still wear glasses, (they make non corrective lenses) to model the frames. Not getting a job at an airline due to ethnicity has no bearing on this matter since it is a protected status. Someone cannot choose not to be black anymore (unless you’re michael jackson). Fat people do not meet the qualifications to model clothing for skinny people (they can’t fit into the clothes), but there are plus size models (I used to date one) I think a skinny burn victim would be a better example for this type of argument. Also the skinny person not getting a job at a supermarket makes no sense. Generally supermarket work involves a lot of heavy lifting and exercise.

  30. shampoo says:

    if you against the vail that means not you are anti-Muslim. As European I am shocked with what they get away with it. They follow loophples in the laws we thought do not exist and do things I write here carefully, in high numbers.
    Personally I am used to girls with headscarfe in hairdressing and beauty shops, I don’t even see the scarves anymore. What they do then wear the most ugly scarf and totally ignore request to get something prettier and even Muslim women would not like to employ them and are willing to sack them.