Waitress fired for shaving her head has human rights complaint denied

Manager fired waitress for violating dress code after she cut off her hair to support cancer-stricken uncle
|employmentlawtoday.com|Last Updated: 01/28/2011

A Winnipeg woman who was fired from her waitress job for shaving her head has had her discrimination complaint rejected by the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.

Stephanie Lozinski, a 21-year-old student at the University of Winnipeg, worked at Sawatdee Thai, a Winnipeg restaurant, which required employees to wear Thai skirts, have no visible tattoos and wear their hair in a certain way.

At the beginning of January, Lozinski decided to cut off all her hair as a show of support for her uncle, who was fighting cancer. When she went back to work, she wore either an embroidered silk scarf or a wig on her head.

However, at the end of her shift on Jan. 16, Lozinski’s supervisor told her the manager of the restaurant didn’t like her baldness because it was against the restaurant’s dress code. She was then fired. Lozinski, who claimed she had never been informed there was a dress code, was shocked, since she had told her boss she was planning to shave her head before she did it and other employees were allowed to have varied and colourful hairstyles.

“I just walked out and I couldn’t believe it,” Lozinski told the Winnipeg Free Press. “I’ve never been fired before, so it was pretty upsetting.”

Sawatdee Thai’s manager, Linh Bo, defended the decision, saying Lozinski’s look wasn’t appropriate for the restaurant.

"If you go to fine dining, what do you expect from a server? Seriously," Bo told the Free Press. "As a customer, you walk into fine dining and you have fine dining."

Lozinski filed a complaint on discrimination based on her sex with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, claiming she wouldn’t have been fired if she was a man with a shaved head.

However, the commission rejected her complaint on the basis that her baldness was voluntary and therefore not grounds for discrimination.

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