A Canadian hair salon owner who refused to hire a Muslim stylist in a headscarf has been ordered by a British tribunal to pay roughly $8,000 in damages.
Sarah Desrosiers, who is originally from Windsor, Ont., had argued the stylist wasn't a good fit at her trendy salon in London, England, because she needs her employees to show off their funky hairstyles. Desrosiers, who moved to Europe a decade ago, said her stylists are essentially modelling their own haircuts for their clients.
'The question is: was she qualified for the job? If the answer is yes, then the owner has no grounds for rejecting her.'
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"I never in a million years dreamt that somebody would be completely against the display of hair and be in this industry," Desrosiers, 32, said after the ruling was handed down, according to BBC News.
"I don't feel I deserve [this]."
But an employment tribunal panel in central London ruled Monday that Desrosiers' actions were "indirect discrimination" against stylist Bushra Noah, 19, according to the BBC.
Noah had told the panel that she was deeply upset by the 15-minute job interview she had in May 2007 at the Wedge salon in London's King's Cross neighbourhood. She said she could tell that Desrosiers was shocked by her headscarf.
The BBC said the panel awarded Noah £4,000 (the equivalent of about $8,000 Cdn) for "injury to feeling," but dismissed her claims that the incident was direct religious discrimination, and her demand for more than $30,000 for lost earnings and hurt feelings.
In its ruling, the panel said it believed Desrosiers would have treated any stylist with covered hair in the same manner, whether the stylist were Muslim or not, but the panel added that Desrosiers had not provided specific evidence as to the negative impacts a stylist with covered hair would have had on the salon.
Noah would not comment to the media after the ruling was handed down.