A British employment tribunal has ordered a 19-year-old Muslim woman be compensated 4,000 pounds (or approximately $7,800 USD) for "injury to feelings" after being denied a job at a London hair salon last year. (www.cbc.ca/world/story/2008/06/17/salon-scarf.html)
Bushra Noah had claimed religious discrimination against Sarah DeRosiers, the Canadian born owner of the Wedge Hair Salon in London's King Cross neighborhood. DeRosiers wouldn't hire Noah because of the hijab she wore covering her hair. DeRosiers said she could not conceive of hiring a hair stylist who didn't show off their hair. After all, it is hairstyles that in part bring in business. While the tribunal didn't see merit in Noah's complaint of religious discrimination. The board even acknowledged that DeRosiers would have made the same business decision whether or not Noah was Muslim. But they ruled in Noah's favor because she didn't provide specific evidence that a hairstylist who concealed their hair would be harmful to business. But isn't that a decision that should be determined by DeRosiers and not some government body? Well, now that DeRosiers is being forced to pay this woman there's a good chance she will have to shut down her shop and force the other hairstylists out of work. That I would say is pretty harmful to business.
One could argue there might have been a better way for DeRosiers to have handled the situation but she shouldn't lose her business over it. If every person who ever had their feelings hurt by an employer who wouldn't hire them sued for compensation then there would cease to be employers. Then no one could get hired anywhere.