Ex-Jet2 cabin crew member claims discrimination over short haircut

-Credit: (Image: Daily Record)

A former Jet2 cabin crew member alleges she was made to quit her job due to her short hair. Marion McKay informed an employment tribunal that the airline threatened to ban her from working on flights unless she altered her hairstyle.

She took sick leave due to stress and resigned approximately a week later, feeling she had "no choice". She is now pursuing £22,000 in compensation from Jet2 for emotional distress and loss of earnings. The airline refutes any wrongdoing,

Her solicitor, Amanda Buchanan, told the tribunal: "She initially tried to comply because she loved her job, but then didn't want to change herself and after reflecting on it, she resigned."

When Marion joined the airline in June 2022, she sported a gender-neutral haircut described as a "short cut and sides". She was asked to conceal her tattoos, but claims there was no mention of her hair not meeting standards, the Daily Record reports.

Marion asserts management failed to address the issue until around 14 months later, when a senior staff member requested she grow it out. Other male staff members with similar hairstyles faced no repercussions from the company.

Stuart Mckenzie, the deputy cabin crew manager, recounted to the tribunal: "I spoke to the claimant about her hair on July 10. We planned to approach her during Red Hot Week, but it was too busy. We intended to still speak to her, but were looking for an appropriate time to do it. The claimant was not prevented from flying. Her hair doesn't fit with the guidelines because it is an extreme style. We spoke about potentially growing her hair out at the sides."

Marion McKay
Marion McKay woman sacked by Jet2 because of her hair style -Credit:No credit

Marion was signed off sick with work-related stress on July 14 2023, due to the anxiety and strain caused by her job situation. She handed in her resignation on July 22 with her employment concluding on August 13 2023.

Mr McKenzie further stated: "She resigned. There was no bad blood between managers and she enjoyed her time with the company. If the claimant was a man, the action I would have taken towards her hair would have been the same."

Kelly Bolton, who serves as the cabin services regional manager, commented that Marion's hairstyle was "more extreme" compared to those of her male colleagues. She explained: "She had changed her hair since she started. The claimant's hairstyle was more extreme and shaven. If she was a man we would approach her to let her know it is not in line with company guidance. We would have done that for anyone."

Ms Buchanan argued that her client was subjected to harsher treatment due to her gender, stating: "Being asked to change hairstyle and having the policy enforced should be applied evenly between men and women. It should not be applied more stringently to females and that is what I believe has happened here.

"The comparisons from her colleague's hair to Marion's were extremely similar, in height, in the ways they were short and shaven. Just looking at the pictures they look the same. Her manager had taken a view her hair was extreme because she was female, not because of the policy. Why were no male members of staff spoken to regarding how short their hair was? The claimant felt distressed and upset about having to change her appearance and took it very much to heart."

Before resigning, Marion reached out to Stuart McKenzie via email to inquire about the consequences of not altering her hairstyle. The tribunal was informed that he neither replied nor sought guidance from HR on this issue.

When questioned, Kelly Bolton admitted uncertainty over whether he ought to have consulted HR. A verdict from the tribunal is expected in 28 days.

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