Page last updated at 12:18 GMT, Tuesday, 1 April 2008 13:18 UK

Muslim hairdresser 'devastated'

Bushra Noah
Bushra Noah went for the interview in March 2007

A Muslim teenager has told a tribunal that she was devastated she was not offered a job at a hair salon because she wears a headscarf.

Bushra Noah is suing the owner of the Wedge salon in King's Cross, north London, for religious discrimination.

Ms Noah claimed salon owner Sarah Desrosiers asked her in an interview if she always wore her headscarf and told Ms Noah that she felt uncomfortable.

Ms Desrosiers has denied discriminating against the teenager in March 2007.

Life-long dream

Ms Noah, who is 19 and lives in Acton, west London, said: "She asked about my experience in hairdressing, that took a few minutes, then focused on my headscarf and if I wore it all the time.

"She asked me when I took it off. Then she focused on the idea that I should have told her over the phone, she said it several times.

"Then she said how uncomfortable she felt with me being there."

The teenager told the tribunal in London she was "devastated" that she wasn't offered the job "due to my headscarf".

I didn't mind her asking the questions but her approach was different you know?
Bushra Noah

Ms Noah added that as a result she gave up her life-long dream of becoming a hairdresser and was now studying for a qualification in travel and tourism.

Admitting that Ms Desrosiers did not make any derogatory comment about her headscarf or religion, Ms Noah said: "I didn't mind her asking the questions but her approach was different you know?

"That's her opinion and the right of her own business. But she made me feel uncomfortable in the way she treated me."

When asked why she had waited two months before filing a grievance complaint against the salon, Ms Noah said: "At the time I was 18, I was newly married and having problems with my husband.

"Deciding whether I should or shouldn't go through with the legal procedures, it doesn't happen over day and night."

Ms Desrosiers, who was due to give evidence later on Tuesday, has said it was vital that customers should be able to see a stylist's hair.

The tribunal continues.


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