Hospital Worker, Francine Siddaway, Claims She Was Fired For Wearing Egyptian Makeup
Addenbrooke's Hospital apparently didn't like the Queen Nefertiti look, after all. Twenty-eight year old Francine Siddaway had been a cleaner at the Cambridge, England, hospital for three and a half years when she says her bosses suddenly asked her a "toning down or removal" of her make-up.
For Siddaway, the directive was frustrating and mystifying. After all, she had appeared at her interview for the job with the same ancient Egyptian-style eyelashes. So she decided to ignore the warning, and in late April she was fired from her job that paid her 14,857 British pounds ($29,040) a year, according to a Daily Mail report.
"My make-up is my armour - it makes me feel confident," she reportedly told the Daily Mail. "They say my make-up is 'offensive,' but how can it be when the other staff often compliment me on it?"
Siddaway appealed her dismissal, but on July 1, she was told it was rejected. Now she believes that management used her taste in cosmetics as an excuse to fire her. "It is pretty obvious why they have now suddenly decided they have a problem with my make-up - at the same time as job cuts." Indeed, Medirest, the contractor for staffing at the hospital, reportedly has ordered 600 staff members to either take a pay cut or get fired, according to the Daily Mirror.
"Our dress code policy is designed to promote a professional appearance for all colleagues and to comply with health and safety legislation," a Medirest spokeswoman told the Daily Mail. "This includes minimizing the risk of infection transfer while maintaining patient and colleague safety."
Siddaway is the latest in a slew of workers who claim they've either lost their jobs because of their good looks, or faced other humiliations stemming from their appearance. As was reported by AOL Jobs in May, 29-year old Lauren Oldes was hired in April for a job doing data entry for Native Intimates, a lingerie company that produces, as she said, "thongs with hearts placed in the female genital area."
But a week into the gig, she was let go by the company, which is owned by Orthodox Jews, after being told, "You are just too hot for this office." She has also been asked to tape down her breasts before she was let go. (She filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after being let go.)
In spite of awarded for her performance as an administrative specialist for the FBI, and juggling a second career as a Latin music singer, Erika Bonilla was repeatedly investigated by the bureau starting in 2009 for her attendance and other issues. As a result, she was asked by the FBI to document every minute of her day.
She filed a complaint with the EEOC claiming employment discrimination, and cited her colleagues' plotting against her. She said she overheard her colleagues saying "how they need to 'get rid of Erika,'" because of her looks. She also says she was forced to answer questions about sleeping with with higher-ups. She is currently seeking unspecified damages for back pay "and other equitable relief."
But as was also reported on AOL Jobs, such cases rarely lead to easy courtroom vindication. Debrahlee Lorenzana claimed she was terminated by Citigroup for her "distracting" body, but she ended up having to waive her rights to a jury trial as she pursued her employment discrimination suit. She says she hadn't fully understood that when she joined the bank, she'd signed a waiver agreeing to such terms.
She did end up reaching an agreement with Citibank, but wouldn't comment on its terms. Currently working as a financial analyst with Chase Investment Services Corp., she says she is campaigning for the Arbitration Fairness Act, which would ban companies from blocking their workers from pursuing full legal recourse.
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Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.
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