A shaved head doesn’t cut it

The CBC has reported a Winnipeg waitress named Stephanie Lozinski

The CBC has reported a Winnipeg waitress named Stephanie Lozinski

alleges she was fired from her job as a result of shaving her head.

It went on to state that the Manitoba Human Rights Commission has turned down Ms. Lozinski’s resulting human rights complaint.

The CBC’s story contains Ms. Lozinski’s allegations that she was employed as a server at a St. Boniface-area restaurant.

She was reported as having, on New Year’s Eve, shaved her head in support of an uncle dying from cancer.

It appears from the story (which did not quote her employer) that her new look was not appreciated at work.

Ms. Lozinski alleged she was fired because her shaven appearance was unacceptable to her employer.

The CBC story indicates she made efforts to mitigate the impact of her new style by wearing a scarf or a wig when

waiting on tables.

The story goes on to report the Manitoba Human Rights Commission turned down Ms. Lozinski’s complaint on the basis that the voluntary shaving of one’s head is not a human rights matter.

A review of the Commission’s website did not turn up any written reasons relating to Ms.

Lozinski’s complaint.

Undoubtedly, the Commission’s decision was the correct one. It is important to note that all of this information represents allegations which are, at this stage, unproven.

Human rights legislation is, generally, not intended to protect individuals against negative reactions to a simple exercise of personal preference.

Put another way, just because a person decides to cut his or her hair (or, for that matter, grow it) doesn’t imbue that act with the protection of human rights law.

Generally speaking, human rights legislation is intended to protect against acts of discrimination which are linked to enduring, rather than transitory or preferential, characteristics.

B.C.’s Human Rights Code, for instance, protects employees from discrimination relating to their race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation or age or because they have been convicted of a criminal or summary conviction offence unrelated to the employment.

Admittedly, some of these characteristics could be acquired as a matter of individual choice. One could, for instance, choose to join a religion and, thereby, gain human rights protection against resulting discrimination.

But cutting one’s hair—unless, for instance, it could be said to be a racial, ancestral, or religious requirement—wouldn’t normally qualify as a basis for a human rights complaint.

In Ms. Lozinski’s case, her alleged reason for doing so (to support her ill relative) seemingly has no nexus with any of the protected grounds.

Ms. Lozinski’s situation does inspire some sympathy (assuming it occurred as alleged).

You might be forgiven for hoping that your employer wouldn’t be so insensitive as to fire you for expressing support for an ill relative in such a manner.

But the fact that her employer allegedly decided her appearance wasn’t acceptable for a waitress doesn’t convert the matter into a human rights issue.

There may be other legal avenues for her to pursue, but this complaint just doesn’t cut it in the human rights context.

Robert Smithson is a labour and employment lawyer, and operates Smithson Employment Law in Kelowna. This subject matter is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.


Just Posted

Okanagan makes Top 5 of least affordable home markets list

The Okanagan is the fourth least affordable place in Canada to buy property on a single income

Kelowna summit will connect employers and immigrants

A session will be held tomorrow from 12 to 3 p.m. at the downtown library

West Kelowna resident missing

Police are concerned for the health and well-being of a 21-year-old West Kelowna man

Jurors set to deliberate on Kelowna murder trial

“He was mad as a hatter…”

Stargate armour debuts at Kelowna expo

The Kelowna Fan Experience will feature Jaffa armour from Stargate SG-1

Okanagan artists showcased in new IH building

A public tour was held Wednesday to showcase art in the new downtown building

Letter: So I’m sitting here in Tim’s

Kelowna letter-writer comments on the controversial speculation tax

Harsher fines, new off-road vehicle rules in effect to combat B.C. wildfires

Anyone who starts a wildfire could be ordered to pay up to $1,000,000

Okanagan-Shuswap communities granted $588,917

Funds will go towards various economic development initiatives

Muddy water found in taps at B.C. hospital prompts investigation

Northern Health to hire consultant to examine three facilities for potential contamination

Dispute over tractor leads to explosive threats

He wanted to “blow up his house by putting a pipe bomb near the propane tank.”

RCMP officer charged after pedestrian struck at crosswalk

A man suffered a broken leg and head lacerations after being struck by the police vehicle in 2017

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Cougar captured in downtown Kamloops

Kamloops residents discovered the large cat outside their condominium

Most Read