Waitress loses job after shaving head for cancer charity

A 36-year-old waitress at an Owen Sound, Ont., restaurant lost her job this week after she shaved her head to raise money for a cancer charity.

Ontario woman's father died of disease

A 36-year-old waitress at an Owen Sound, Ont., restaurant lost her job this week after she shaved her head to raise money for a cancer charity.

Stacey Fearnall said it was a 'pretty easy thing' to shave her head to raise money for cancer research, but was stunned when her boss fired her over it. ((CBC))
Stacey Fearnall raised more than $2,700 for the charity Cops for Cancer, a local fundraiser for cancer research.

Then the 36-year-old waitress at Nathaniels restaurant was laid off when she showed up for work earlier this week with her newly shorn look.

Up until a week ago, Fearnall had long red locks, but she said she made the decision to have her head shaved because she has a friend battling cancer and she lost her father to the disease.

"I felt like this was a pretty easy thing for me to do to raise money to help people," she told CBC News on Thursday.

She said she told her bosses what she was planning to do, but when she arrived at work at the restaurant practically bald, she said they sent her home and told her she wasn't welcome back.

"'We'll call it a layoff.' That's what he said," Fearnall said her boss told her. "'Spend the summer with your kids.' I call it losing my job."

Nathaniels owner and chef Dan Hilliard issued a statement late Thursday saying Fearnall did not advise him that she was planning to shave her head.

<a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/yourvoice/"><img src="http://www.cbc.ca/news/yourvoice/img/yourvoice-sidebar-header.jpg"></a><br>[/CUSTOM]

'I have worked for fine dining restaurants before and have never heard of someone with a bald head not being able to be a server. Does this mean that bald men shouldn't serve?'

--Mandi Lee

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"Mr. Hilliard had indicated that this is an employer-employee matter and such matters are not to be dealt with in the public," the statement said.

Her dismissal has already provoked an outcry from some in the community.

"You have to express yourself with your wallet," George Brechin said. "I won't be eating there in the future."

'It's not hurting anybody'

Rowena Pinto, spokeswoman for the Canadian Cancer Society, told CBC News her organization has never heard of something like this happening before in relation to any of its fundraising events. 

"We want to underline that it's supporters like Stacey that enable us to carry out our mission," Pinto said.

Fearnall might have grounds to sue on the basis of gender discrimination, said Barbara Hall, chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Hall noted that bald men work at restaurants.

"If something were acceptable if done by a man but not by a woman, then there might be a basis for a complaint," she told CBC News.

Fearnall said she isn't sure if she wants to sue, but she doesn't think she did anything wrong.

"I think it's for a good cause," she said. "It's not hurting anybody and it doesn't affect my ability to work."

She said she is working at a new part-time job where her boss loves her new look and has offered her extra shifts.