Hairdresser, headscarf, lawsuit

It’s fair to say that I understand very little about this story. I don’t understand how someone whose beliefs require wearing a headscarf anytime she’s out in public could possibly gravitate toward hairdressing as an occupation. If it’s sinful to show your hair, isn’t it sinful to help others show theirs? I also don’t understand how any lawyer could ethically take up her case when she sues a salon for failing to hire her.

The owner of an “alternative” London hair salon is being sued for religious discrimination after refusing to give a job to a Muslim woman who wanted to wear a headscarf at work.

Sarah Desrosiers, whose Wedge salon specialises in “urban funky” cuts, says she turned down applicant Bushra Noah because she was “selling image” and needed her staff to display their hairstyles to the public.

That, I understand. Hairdressing is the product, so you need to show it to sell it. Duh.

Ms Noah, 19, is claiming religious discrimination and suing Ms Desrosiers for more than £15,000 for injury to her feelings, as well as an unspecified sum for lost earnings.

Ms Desrosiers, 32, who set up her business in King’s Cross 18 months ago, has already spent more than £1,000 fighting the case and says that if she loses she will be forced to close.

The salon owner makes the point that showing off new hairstyles is part of the job. Makes sense to me. The case gets interesting in the details.

Ms Noah said today she had attended a total of 25 interviews for hairdressing jobs without success and had decided to take legal action because she had been upset by Ms Desrosiers’ comments. She said: “I decided to sue this hairdresser because she upset me the most. I felt so down and got so depressed, I thought if I am not going to defend myself, who is?

“When I spoke to her on the phone she offered me a trial day. But when I turned up she looked at me in shock. She asked if I wore the headscarf all the time. She kept repeating, ‘I wish you told me over the phone’.

“Ever since I was in high school hairdressing is what I wanted to do. It is sad for them to not give me the opportunity. This has ruined my ambitions. Wearing a headscarf is essential to my beliefs.”

So…she got turned down 25 times. A reasonable person might have found a clue in that. But our intrepid Ms Noah decides to sue one of the 25, sort of just because.

What lawyer thinks Noah has a good case here? I don’t see it. Am I paranoid to see this as another attempt to use western courts to impose Islamic practices on non-Muslims?