One too many colours? WestJet employee resigns over alleged hair ultimatum
Ryan White, CTV Calgary
Published Monday, October 27, 2014 2:10PM MDT
Last Updated Monday, October 27, 2014 6:51PM MDT
A 64-year-old Calgary woman has ended her employment with WestJet after management allegedly objected to her hairstyle.
“I was told by my managers at WestJet that my hairstyle was unsuitable for their new ‘awareness’ that is going along with the new uniforms,” said Janet Moore, a former guest services agent with WestJet. “They told me that the policy’s always been there, they’ve just been very lax about it.”
“I was shocked. At first I thought it was a joke, I take great pride in my appearance every day when I got to work and I think I’m groomed very well.”
In her role as a guest services agent, Moore’s duties included assisting passengers in wheelchairs to their gate. The interactions with WestJet guests were a highlight of the job and passengers would often compliment Moore on her hair.
“I told my hairdresser (about the positive feedback from WestJet customers) and she was so thrilled that people are commenting about her creation. I think she might put the prices up, I better be careful.”
Moore says her hairstyle has not undergone a recent change and her two-toned hair was in place when she interviewed for the job, accepted the job offer, and began working for WestJet in February of this year.
According to Moore, management appeared to take issue with the fact her hair colour is, in their estimation, not naturally occurring, an allegation she disputes with a smile.
“The dark in the hair is a natural colour for some people, it might even have been mine at one time, and the white in the hair is my natural colour,” said Moore. “What is unnatural about it? I don’t know. If I had blue, orange or red in it, that’s unnatural, although I think it’s fun.”
WestJet’s manager of public relations, Robert Palmer, would not comment on Moore’s resignation but confirms the company does have a policy regarding the appearance of its staff.
“Most companies with employees that are guest facing, - they’re in the public, they’re dealing with members of the public -, will have some basic dress and deportment standards, because they want to put forward a professional, consistent approach” explains WestJet’s Robert Palmer. “They want to ensure that employees know that there’s a certain way that they ought to present themselves to members of the public, and WestJet is no exception.”
“We’re using the opportunity, with the refresh of our uniforms come the new year, to get back to the dress and deportment standards that we’ve had in place for some time.”
On October 17, Moore submitted a letter of resignation to WestJet management.
“I felt I had to resign on principle,” said Moore. “I felt offended and personally attacked, and I felt I had no choice but to resign because the ultimatum would have been that I had to be dismissed.”
“I would not change my hair. It’s me. It’s who I am. It defines me”
Moore says she remains disappointed with WestJet’s stance, a decision which changed her belief that WestJet was the fun and diverse local airline.
The 64-year-old widow says she’s unsure if she would return to her guest services role if WestJet offered her the job and allowed her to keep her hairstyle.
“That remains to be seen,” explains Moore. “To be honest, I don’t think that will happen. I’m a bit disillusioned with management now, I’m disappointed with them, and I feel I might be marked for causing a stir.”
“I don’t mean to cause a stir, I just find it so unfair and I think it has to be out there.”