The opening shots in a £34,000 employment battle between a pink-haired salon owner and a headscarf-wearing Muslim stylist were fired yesterday with an accusation of “blatant” religious discrimination.
Bushra Noah, 19, is claiming that amount in compensation after being turned down for a job at the Wedge salon, which specialises in “urban, edgy and funky” cuts. Owner Sarah Desrosiers, 32, says it is an “absolutely basic” job requirement that stylists should have their hair on show if they are to cut other people’s.
But Miss Noah argued: “I know my punk from my funk and my urban from my trendy. The fact that I wear a headscarf does not mean that I cannot assist in an alternative form of hairdressing. It is essential to my religion and is non-negotiable. I have been wearing it from the age of 13 and I had never suffered from such blatant discrimination until I visited Miss Desrosiers.”
She told a tribunal in central London how her interview at Wedge, at King’s Cross, left her devastated. She said: “Miss Desrosiers looked at me in shock. She asked me if I wore my headscarf all the time and I explained that I did. She asked me if I ever took it off and I said that I only took it off at home. She said as this is a hair salon it was essential that I did not wear a headscarf. Miss Desrosiers then said how uncomfortable she felt with me being around.”