She didn’t hire you because you were a bad fit, not because you are Muslim!

Posted on June 18, 2008. Filed under: small business, staff | Tags: , , , |

This story takes place in the UK, and if you think I have limited knowledge of business law in my own country, you can imagine how little I know about others!  This is a story about one of us, a small salon owner, who didn’t hire someone because they were a bad fit for the salon.  The hairdresser sued the salon for “hurting her feelings” by not hiring her.  (This is definitely a candidate for Come Here So I can Smack You!  I want to smack the woman who file the lawsuit and the judge who thought she was right!)

For the record, I think that one of the great things about owning a small business is the ability to select staff and customers that are a good match.  It’s kind of like dating.  Not everyone gets on well together.  It doesn’t make them bad or wrong, it just makes them a bad fit.  As a business owner, I could give two craps about my staff’s religious affiliations, but I do care about how well they integrate with the existing staff and clients.  I would love to hear a good reason why I shouldn’t be able to pick staff based on that criteria.

And just to open another can of worms (why not?) I think a the same thing about pharmacists who want to pick which medications they fill.  Unless you have BRANDED yourself as a business with certain beliefs, it is unreasonable to expect a customer to guess that your religious beliefs are going to get in the way of them having the experience they expect from a pharmacy (or a salon.)

There is a hospital in my city owned by the Franciscans.  I know their policies about reproductive medicine.  I wouldn’t go to them for a pregnancy termination because I know they don’t do them.  I am not even sure if they offer any contraceptive services, so I don’t go there for such things.

If you make your religious faith a cornerstone of your business, then people can choose to come or not come to you based on that.  Depending on your location, you may attract and repel an equal number of potential guests.

And if you take away the religious aspect of this issue, there is still an issue of appearance.  People judge salons based on the appearance of the staff.  If all the staff look like bikers, chances are a soccer mom is going to either think she isn’t welcome or the salon can’t provide the work she is expecting (“They don’t do my kind of hair there.”)  The salon in this article is “edgy-funky,” not “quiet and conservative.”  Seems like the customers there might be a rowdy bunch who might feel they have to be on their best behavior around a person who is visibly observant of their religion which would make the salon a less desirable location for them to visit.

As always, I am open to dissenting opinions.

Sarah Desrosiers

I nearly lost my business after refusing to hire a Muslim hair stylist who wouldn’t show her hair

By Natasha Courtenay-Smith
Last updated at 11:08 AM on 18th June 2008

It seems too lunatic to be true. But here a hair salon boss reveals how she was driven to the brink of ruin – and forced to pay £4,000 for ‘hurt feelings’ – after refusing to hire a Muslim stylist who wouldn’t show her hair at work

For Sarah Desrosiers, meeting Bushra Noah was not a moment in her life that she would describe as especially memorable.

Not only was it brief  –  lasting little more than ten minutes  –  but it was rapidly obvious to Sarah that Bushra was not the person for the junior stylist position she was trying to fill at her hairdressing salon.

Sarah’s reasoning? Quite simply that Bushra, a Muslim who wears a headscarf for religions reasons, had made it clear she would not be removing the garment even while at work.

Read the rest of the article here.

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