Woman fired for having grey hair: recent employee terminations causing controversy
It was reported in the Houston Chronicle this month that a woman named Sandra Rawline is claiming she was fired because she refused to dye her grey hair.
Sandra Rawline was a real estate escrow officer and branch manage at Capital Title of Texas. She reportedly says her boss wanted her to dye her hair because the office was moving to a more upscale location. She also says she was also asked to wear "younger fancy suits" and lots of “fancy” jewellery. She says her boss even offered to dye her hair for her.
The 52-year-old, who has been grey since her early 20s, says she refused and was subsequently fired, in 2009, and replaced with a younger woman. So, she’s filed an age discrimination and retaliation lawsuit.
Capital Title of Texas reportedly said in a statement that Rawline wasn’t fired because of her age or appearance but because a customer refused to do business with her. The company also said that three employees over 60 still work with that customer.
Company CEO Bill Shaddock said the allegations are "completely baseless and preposterous.”
As usual, a lot of media has been quick to dismiss Shaddock’s denial and assume he’s a total pig. It makes good ranting fodder. WOMAN FIRED FOR GREY HAIR! AGEISM! SEXISM! OFF WITH HIS HEAD! I’m less inclined to bay for his blood, since I wasn’t there, despite the fact that I too have a full head of natural grey hair (and I’m only thirtymumblecough).
For all I know the allegations are true and Rawline’s appearance was negatively affecting business. I’m inclined to wonder what an employer is supposed to do in this totally hypothetical situation. Of course, I probably wouldn’t fire her myself. My now former assistant once showed up drunk at nine in morning and I kept her on. (Read more about the story here.)
Still. What do you think?
Give us your opinion on some more controversial firings that made the media.
In June, 2011, social media “specialist,” Vanessa Williams, was fired from Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp, after tweeting on the company’s official Twitter account that many of the staff was leaving early to play golf, thanks to summer hours. Williams then invited discussion on whether other offices observed summer hours. The company President and CEO said the tweet was “out of line” and that no one left early that Friday. Additional info: The company is partially funded by tax dollars and a response to the tweet asked if the company wouldn’t be more productive if employees worked until five. (source: SocialTimes.com)
In 2008, Tim Hortons employee Nicole Lilliman - a 27-year-old single mom - was fired for giving a Timbit to the child of a regular customer. Tim Horton’s quickly blamed the incident on an overzealous manager and reinstated Lilliman.
In 2010, 22-year-old North Carolina waitress Ashley Johnson reportedly lost her job at Brixx Pizza after complaining on Facebook about a $5 tip she got from a couple who sat at their table for three hours, keeping her at work an hour after she was supposed to be finished. According to the Charlotte Observer, Brixx posted the restaurant’s name and called the couple “cheap piece[s] of ****.” Brixx said Johnson violated a company policy forbidding workers from disparaging customers and portraying the company in a bad light on a social network.
In January of this year, John Stone was fired from Webb Chevrolet in Oak Lawn, Illinois, for wearing a Green Bay Packers tie. Stone said he wore the tie to honour his recently deceased grandmother, a Packers fan. General manager Jerry Roberts told WGN-TV that the dealership had previously done promotions involving rival team the Chicago Bears. "I don't feel that it was appropriate for him to go directly in contrast with an advertising campaign that we spent a lot of money on," Roberts said.
In January, 2011, an assistant manager at McDonald's was fired after allowing Minnesota Vikings player Adrian Peterson to use the bathroom while the restaurant was closed. The woman was working the drive-through at 3 a.m., when Peterson asked to come inside and use the restroom. So, the mother of three let him and was canned for it. The woman told the Consumerist, "He's a public figure... I know him better than some of the maintenance people that come in and out.” She was later reinstated.
Fired when you think you shouldn’t have been? Tell us about it in the comments.
Category: Career dilemmas, Latest news & advice