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Muslim hairdresser accuses salon owner who objected to her headscarf of 'blatant' religious discrimination
A Muslim hairdresser today accused a salon owner who objected to her Islamic headscarf of "blatant" religious discrimination.
Bushra Noah, 19, told a tribunal that she was "devastated" when she was wrongly turned down for a job as a stylist at the trendy salon by 32-year-old Sarah Desrosiers.
She claimed that she could have fitted in at the salon, which specialises in "urban, edgy and funky" cuts, even though she insists that her headgear is essential to her beliefs.
Miss Noah told Central London Employment Tribunal: "I know my punk from my funk and my urban from my trendy."
Miss Noah, from Acton, west London, has been rejected for around 20 different hairdressing jobs after interviews.
She is claiming over £35,000 in compensation from Miss Desrosiers, says she faces financial ruin if she loses the case and would be forced to close her Wedge salon in King's Cross, north London.
Pink-haired Miss Desrosiers denies any discrimination and insists it is an "absolutely basic" job requirement that stylists should have their own hair on show if they are to cut that of the customers.
Giving evidence today wearing a black headscarf, Miss Noah told of her job interview at the salon in March last year.
She said: "Miss Desrosiers has stated in her tribunal claim that she offers an alternative form of hairdressing, which is ultra-modern and may be described as urban, edgy and funky. The fact that I wear a headscarf does not mean that I cannot assist in an alternative form of hairdressing, which includes general cleaning, taking appointments, answering the telephone and helping Miss Desrosiers to attend to customers. I have been wearing my headscarf from the age of 13 and I had never suffered from such blatant discrimination until I visited Miss Desrosiers. I wear a headscarf as part of my religion at all times other than when I am at home. Wearing a headscarf is essential to my religion and is non-negotiable. It is about showing your modest side. I believe that Miss Desrosier's behaviour towards me was rude and unprofessional.
"I further believe that the practice or criterion by which Miss Desrosiers offered the vacancy for a junior hairstylist is unfair in that it puts me, as a Muslim who wears a headscarf, at a particular disadvantage."
Miss Desrosiers failed in a bid to restrict reporting of the hearing after the tribunal heard she had earlier given interviews to three national newspapers, the BBC, ITV and GMTV's The Lorraine Kelly Show.
She (Noah) originally demanded over £15,000 in compensation for injury to her feelings and lost earnings.
But she more than doubled her claim to over £35,000 after coverage of the case, saying she had received hate mail and suffered harassment because of "media intrusion".
The tribunal panel ruled against restricting reporting, saying: "There is a genuine public interest in and a legitimate media interest in coverage of issues raised by a case such as this."
As bizarre as the sight I saw on the tube the other day, which I was unable to photograph, of a woman (I assume a woman – you can’t rely on it being a woman underneath) in full niqab reading Glamour magazine.