Wednesday, June 18, 2008


My name is Bushra, and I have a price on my head:
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.

....For a year, Sarah has been facing financial ruin, due to a compensation claim for £34,000 brought by Bushra, 19, who has maintained she is due that figure after being turned down for a job at the Wedge salon in London's King's Cross.

In the event, the tribunal ruled this week that while Bushra's claim of direct discrimination failed, her claim for indirect discrimination had succeeded.

Sarah has therefore been ordered to pay £4,000 compensation by way of 'injury to feelings'.
Although this is a smaller sum than she'd feared she might have to hand over, Sarah, 32, is still outraged.

'I am a small business and the bottom line is that this is not a woman who worked for me,' says Sarah.

She is simply someone I met for a job interview, who, for a host of reasons, was not right for the job. I cannot see how she deserves £4,000.

'As for the notion that I've injured her feelings - well, people's feelings get injured every day. I dread to think the sorts of things that people will try to claim injured feelings for now that this precedent has been set.'

....Since the judgment, Bushra, who is of Syrian descent and has worn a headscarf since she was 13, has, so far at least, chosen not to comment.

But, speaking last year, she admitted she had attended 25 interviews for hairdressing jobs without success.

....Although Bushra is believed to have been acting alone, in the past similar cases have been championed by Muslim traditionalist groups.

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