Mom files discrimination claim after men's barber shop refuses to cut her daughter's hair

Sam Rahim, owner of a men’s barber shop in Sydney, claims that he is “not qualified” to work on women’s hair. But he’ll be fighting his case before the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission after turning away the girl, whose lawyer mother has filed a gender discrimination complaint. 

“I refused politely,” Rahim said of his response to the cut request. “I explained I’m not qualified to cut women’s or girls’ hair. I’ve never done it.

“But she kept pressing me, saying I should just do it. I told her there are three women’s hair salons within a minute’s walk, but she became angry and stormed out.”

A statement from the mother disputes his account.

“A claim has been brought against Hunters Hill Barber Shop in the Federal Circuit Court for an alleged breach of the Sex Discrimination Act,” she told 9 News. “The basis of the claim is that the barber shop refused to simply run the clippers through my daughter’s undercut, because she was a girl.

“I indicated to him that I did not need him to style, cut, or trim the rest of her hair, which is styled in a ‘bob.’ Mr. Rahim’s explanation was that he wished to keep his barber shop for boys and men only. He never said he was not qualified to cut women or girls’ hair, as he has incorrectly reported to the media.

“The matter remains before the Court and it is inappropriate for me to provide any further comment at this point in time.”

The mother’s complaint says the incident caused her daughter embarrassment, but Rahim — who says the case has caused him and his family substantial stress — is standing his ground.

“She might have been more embarrassed walking to school if I’d butchered her hair,” he said. “The skills are different. Look up ‘barber,’ and it says ‘a place where men get their hair cut.'”

The Instagram page for his shop, Hunters Hill Barber, has featured many comments voicing support for Rahim.

“Just saw your story mate, what a joke!!” a supporter wrote. “All the best coming up. As soon as I saw the story I thought of that women’s gym Fernwood. When can I start training there?”

“I can’t believe that refusing work that’s not in your scope of work has amounted to this,” added a follower. “This woman obviously has too much time for on her hands.”

“For starters, she walked into a ‘barber shop,'” read another comment. “She is very uneducated to ignore the dictionary meaning of barber — a person who cuts men’s hair. To persist after you say you are not qualified and then to surprise you with a court order just upsets me! Keep up the good work of your salon and don’t worry about humans like that.”

The case is due to be heard in court in about two weeks.

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