Local Teenager Awarded £4,000 for "Hurt Feelings"

After row over headscarf goes to tribunal

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Acton teenager Bushra Noah has been awarded £4,000 for "hurt feelings" after she was refused a job in a hair salon because she wore a headscarf.  

Ms Noah, aged 19, told a tribunal she was "devastated" at being turned down for a job as a stylist at a trendy hair salon, and claimed she had been the victim of religious discrimination.

However, salon owner Sarah Desrosiers, 32, told the hearing in central London that it was an "absolutely basic" job requirement for stylist to have their own hair on show.

"I never in a million years dreamt that somebody would be completely against the display of hair and be in this industry," she said. "I don't feel I deserve it. I feel it is a bit steep for what actually happened. It's really scary for a small business."

The hearing was told Ms Noah got an interview for a job as a junior assistant at the Wedge salon in King's Cross, central London. But when she arrived for an interview in May last year she claimed Ms Desrosiers was clearly shocked that she wore a headscarf.

Mrs Noah had told the tribunal: "Ms Desrosiers stated that as it was a hair salon it was essential that I did not wear a headscarf.

"She then said how uncomfortable she felt with me being around. I wasn't sure how to respond. I was extremely offended and felt that her questions were insulting, both to me and to my religion."

Ms Desrosier said she insists all stylists wear their hair in "alternative" ways.

The tribunal yesterday dismissed Mrs Noah's claim of direct discrimination but upheld her complaint of indirect discrimination. The panel said it accepted that Ms Desrosiers said she could not employ Mrs Noah because she lived too far away. They said she had not been treated "less favourably... than a woman who, whether Muslim or not, for a reason other than religious belief wears a hair covering at all times when at work."

But they said Mrs Noah had been badly upset by the 15-minute interview and awarded her £4,000 damages for "injury to feelings".

June 20, 2008