Restaurant sorry after controversy over discharge of waitress with shaved head

Waitress was let go after shaving head for cancer charity but owner says she wasn’t fired

An Owen Sound, Ont., restaurant has issued a public apology after its firing of a waitress for shaving her head kicked up a stir in the community.

Stacey Fearnall, 36, lost her father to cancer and had a friend who was fighting it. So, as a show of support, she decided to shave her long, red hair in the name of charity. She took part in a charity head-shaving and raised more than $2,700 for Cops for Cancer, a local charity for cancer research. Though she claims she told Nathaniel’s, the restaurant where she worked, what she was doing, management wasn’t amused when she showed up without locks.

Fearnall said when she arrived at the restaurant with her new look, her boss told her to go home and not come back. She asked if she was fired and his reply, Fearnall told reporters, was, “Let’s call it laid off. You can spend the summer with your kids.”

Shortly after, word got out in the community and a media frenzy ensued. Some angry locals indicated they would no longer visit Nathaniel’s and some felt Fearnall might have a legitimate human rights complaint based on gender discrimination. Fearnall wasn’t sure what she would do, but the attention did solicit a response from the restaurant.

A few days after Fearnall was let go, Dan Hilliard, the owner of Nathaniel’s, issued a statement to the media offering his “sincere apologies to Mrs. Fearnall, the Canadian Cancer Society, Cops for Cancer and the public, for failing to resolve the issue of Mrs. Fearnall shaving her head for Cops for Cancer, prior to Mrs. Fearnall contacting the media." The statement maintained she was not fired.

Fearnall has since found a new part-time job. She told reporters her new boss is happy with her appearance and has asked her to work more shifts.

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