Hair raising unfair dismissal decision unappealing for employers
September 08, 2013
On 24 July 2013, the Fair Work Commission refused an appeal by Virgin Australia against the Commission’s earlier decision to reinstate Mr Taleski after he was held to have been wrongfully dismissed for refusing to cut his hair.
Virgin had sought to have Mr Taleski cut his hair to comply with the company’s “look book” over a period of nearly 18 months. Mr Taleski provided a variety of reasons as to why he shouldn’t cut his hair from religious reasons to the medical issue of having “Body Dysmorphic Disorder”. He resorted to wig wearing and eventually writing to the Virgin Australia’s CEO.
Mr Taleski’s employment was eventually terminated on the grounds that he had:
However, the Fair Work Commission upheld the initial decision which ordered the reinstatement of Mr Taleski. Essentially it held that there was medical evidence to support Mr Taleski’s claims and while such evidence was not as detailed as Virgin required, it nonetheless established that he had a disability relevant to his non-compliance with the “look book”. It also found that compliance with the “look book” was not an inherent requirement of Mr Taleski’s job and that he had not been given a final opportunity to respond to the decision to terminate his employment.
Lessons for employers
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