Salon Employee Criticized for Not Allowing in Men While Helping Female Muslim Customer

An employee at a salon faced criticism for temporarily asking men not to enter while she worked with a female Muslim client, who had removed her hijab. (Photo: Facebook)

An employee of a SmartStyle salon located inside a Walmart in Taylor, Mich., faced corporate and public criticism after posting a sign in the salon’s window. The sign — which simply read, “No men please” — temporarily asked men not to enter the salon while a female Muslim customer was inside and without her hijab, the headscarf worn by some Muslim women in accordance with their faith. Muslim women who practice veiling do not let nonrelative males see their hair.

In a statement, SmartStyle clarified that such a gesture is against the company’s policies.

“SmartStyle welcomes all guests, and we apologize to anyone who was offended by the paper taped to the salon window,” the company said. “The message was inappropriate and it does not reflect our standards or beliefs; our goal is to offer a quality experience to all guests. Again, our apologies to anyone who was offended.”

Though the employee who posted the sign is no longer with SmartStyle, SmartStyle corporate also notes that the employee in question had already given notice of leaving the company before the incident occurred. However, the Southgate, Mich.-based News-Herald reports that salon manager Erika Van Etten, who was not present at the time of the incident, shared that the sign in the window was from a former employee “taking it upon herself to do her own thing” and also emphasized that the employee in question “is a former employee who has been taken care of.”

The story out of Michigan is not the first of its kind. In September 2016, reports circulated of a hijabi woman asking the employees of a salon in Norway to bar the entry of men while she was in there. However, as Snopes revealed, that reporting was inaccurate — instead, a 23-year-old woman wearing a hijab had entered the Norwegian salon in October 2015 to inquire about pricing. At that time, the woman was asked to leave the salon. The salon manager claims this was because she could not accommodate hijabi women in her salon, since “it would have been deeply discriminatory if I had banished men from the salon because of a woman who could not show her hair in front of them.”

In the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn, a new women-only salon, Le’Jemalik Salon, opened earlier in 2017, meant to specifically accommodate hijabi women. The salon’s founder, Huda Quhshi, told the New York Post in January that after once having “to throw my head scarf over my wet hair and run to a back room” while getting a haircut, she realized that her predicament could be solved with a women-only salon space.

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