HR Strange But True!
April 14, 2003
We all know that HR is never boring, but sometimes it can downright strange...

'I can't come to work today. It's about my hair...'

A St. Louis-area woman has won a $6,000 jury award after alleging that a hairdo she received in 2001 was so awful that it put her into an emotional tailspin, which in turn led to her taking early retirement.

The woman, Geremie Hoff, received far less than she had sought, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Hoff hadn't demanded a specific amount, but in paperwork accompanying her lawsuit against a beauty salon, she indicated that she deserved at least $25,000 for emotional distress, depression, counseling, and lost income from taking the early retirement.

Jurors interviewed by the Post-Dispatch after the verdict said they recognized the case as highly unusual and felt they were following the letter of the law in finding a stylist negligent for failing to test a strand of hair before applying a product.

According to testimony, Hoff went to the salon Aug. 9, 2001, asking to have her curly and wavy hair straightened. A stylist applied a hair relaxer and testified later that while Hoff seemed surprised by the straightness and the new collar-length cut, she showed no displeasure at the time.

Hoff complained in court that clumps of hair came loose that night, and that bald spots and brittle hair made her depressed and reclusive. Her lawyer said she was so distressed that she retired early from the University of Missouri at St. Louis, where she taught, and also stopped guiding tours to Italy.

But a lawyer for the salon noted that Hoff didn't retire until nearly a year later, after her hair returned. He said her tour business would have suffered anyway, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He even suggested that Hoff tried to color her hair later and caused her own problem.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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