HR Strange But True!
June 26, 2008

The restaurant industry often maintains a less-formal workplace environment in order to make patrons feel at home, but we've uncovered stories of a bartender fired for laughing and a waitress fired for shaving her head, which she did to raise money for cancer research.

Laughing Her Way Out of Job

Florida 's reports that a New Port Richey bartender was fired for laughing while speaking with a customer. Darra Kollios tells the station that the owner of the restaurant where she worked came up and said to her in front of the patron, "please stop laughing," which made the pair giggle because they thought he was kidding.

When Kollios said "are you serious?" the owner fired her on the spot, according to her interview with the station. When the station talked with the owner, he admitted that there were no complaints about Kollios' laughing, but that he prefers his restaurant to be "quiet and cozy," and her laughter was not conducive to this atmosphere.

The article explains that under Florida law, employees considered "at will" may be terminated for any reason that does not involved age, sex, or race discrimination. But we'll let you decide whether a waitress in Ontario has a case for sex discrimination.

Bald Discrimination?

Stacey Fearnall, an Ontario waitress whose father died of cancer, raised more than $2,700 for the charity Cops for Cancer by shaving off her long auburn hair, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

Fearnall told the CBC that she had informed her employer of her plans, but when she showed up at work with a bald pate, she was told to go home and play with her kids for the rest of the summer (implying until her hair grows back) because she was being laid off.

The restaurant owner contradicts her account, according to his lawyer, by saying it never happened and issued a statement that "this is an employer-employee matter and such matters are not to be dealt with in the public," says the CBC report.

However, it may become a more public matter if she sues. Fearnall hasn't decided if she is going to sue, but maintains she didn't do anything wrong and that her lack of hair didn't prevent her ability of performing her job as a waitress.

In the United States, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2006 that employers can have different standards for men and women as long as the standards impose an equal burden on both genders. The court ruled that a female employee, who was fired for refusing to wear makeup, failed to present evidence showing that the time it takes to apply makeup, or the cost of buying it, is more burdensome than the grooming requirements for men.

Source: Local6 and the CBC

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