A cashier at an Ottawa Loblaws grocery store has filed a discrimination grievance with his union, alleging he was told he could not wear pigtails to work.
Adam Stone, 22, told CBC News he expresses himself through his hair — and has worn various styles and wigs to work over the past year.
"I'm also openly gay and queer-identified. So I also feel it's a representation of my sexuality and my gender presentation," said Stone, who has worked for Loblaws for about four years.
'I don't think anyone else would be having this issue unless it was a boy in pigtails.' - Adam Stone, Loblaws cashier
On Tuesday, he said, his store manager told him that his pigtails were a health and safety hazard since he works around food.
"He said it was crazy hair, and spiked out and that it was out of control," Stone said. "Then he said there's also some customers at the store who are very conservative and that it might turn away these customers."
Stone argued his pigtails comply with the store rule that if your hair is longer than your shoulders, it must be pulled back.
"I just find it fun. I don't even think my hair's that wild. I don't think anyone else would be having this issue unless it was a boy in pigtails," he said. "He didn't explicitly say that I looked too gay, but it was really the implication that I'm not gender-conformative enough."
In a statement to CBC News, the company's vice-president of corporate affairs and communication said that Loblaws was "committed to advancing diversity and inclusion." Kevin Groh said he was very concerned about the description of the conversation, and that it will be investigated.
"While there are certainly underlying food safety and hygiene considerations to be made, if the conversation occurred as described, it falls short of our commitment to fair, respectful, inclusive treatment of our many LGBT colleagues," Groh said.