A hair salon has been told it cannot place a job advert for a ‘happy’ new stylist – because the word happy is discriminatory.
Her ad said “Part time fully qualified hairdresser, must be confident in barbering as well as all aspects of hairdressing, must have at least 5 years experience working in a salon, after being fully qualified. This is a busy friendly small salon, so only happy, friendly stylist need apply.”
Mum of three Alison, 54, who has run her salon for 20 years, said “It was less than an hour after I’d gone online and placed the ad with the local job centre that I got a call from a man there saying there was a problem.
“I said what’s that and he said I couldn’t use the word happy because it discriminated against people who aren’t happy.
“I honestly thought it was a wind-up and someone I know was pulling my leg. I thought any second now he’s going to tell me it’s a joke but he didn’t. He was deadly serious.
“In the end I told him I wouldn’t proceed with the ad. I can’t repeat some of the words I used!
“All I wanted to get across in my ad was that we are a small friendly salon and we wanted someone with a smile on their face. We have had stylists in the past who come in after arguing with their boyfriends and slam the door and things like that and I didn’t want that sort of thing again.
“Sadly one of our stylists has died of cancer during lockdown aged only 42 so my other stylist Claire Young and I could really do with someone cheerful joining us after that terrible tragedy.
“In this day and age with Covid worrying us all our customers really need to see happy smiling eyes. Our eyes are all they can see while we have to wear masks and visors so I don’t think there is anything terribly wrong in advertising for someone of a happy disposition.
“I still can’t understand why the word happy should be such a problem. When you think about it, almost any word you care to use to describe someone could be regarded as discrimination. I could have said outgoing or friendly but that would presumably be discriminating against people who aren’t outgoing or friendly?”
Alison has received dozens of messages of support on Facebook.
One friend, Jon Hodges, posted “I know a little fella (a dwarf but that’s discriminatory )who’s after a job he’s worked with another 6 fellas but one was grumpy as hell!”
Julie Kay Thickins commented “I thought this was a joke, realising it clearly isn’t has left me speechless, absolutely speechless….wtf has the human race come to?”
And Gill Dickinson added “I suppose that asking for someone who can cut hair would be discriminatory- after all, it would preclude anyone who can’t!”
The Dept of Work and Pensions is expected to issue a statement shortly.