As an airline passenger, it might seem like you have to jump through a hundred hoops before you can even board the plane. Well, those hoops are no less numerous for airline workers themselves. And it’s not just flight attendants. Sid Ouared, a former British Airways employee, was terminated from his customer service role on his final day of training because his hairstyle was against the dress code. In Ouared’s opinion, his firing is an example of discrimination. “According to them,” he told The Sun, “the man bun doesn’t comply with their uniform policy. The fact that they dismissed me for being a man with long hair is ridiculous and sexist.” In the video below, he told ITV News that “they dismissed me on the claims that my hair is like a ‘girl’s hair.’”
If he wanted to keep his job, he was told that he must either cut his hair, put it in a turban, or (perhaps, most surprisingly) wear dreadlocks. As no prior employer has ever had an issue with its length or style, Ouared was reluctant to cut his hair, and since he is neither Sikh nor Rastafarian, those options were out of the question. The British Airways dress code does, however, state that men’s hairstyles should be “clean, tidy, and well-groomed,” with ponytails “only permitted to secure dreadlocks.” The vague language of the guideline leaves enough room for both sides to make a reasonable argument.
The point of outrage for Ouared, and many others, is that women are allowed to wear their hair in buns without issue. It’s even encouraged. Is Ouared’s firing an example of a glaring double standard? Or does it simply reinforce the airline’s right to enforce dress codes that adhere to a preferred aesthetic?