Dental nurse sacked for refusing to trim her finger nailsDecember 18, 2021
Dental nurse loses sex discrimination case after refusing to have her nails cut unless they were done by a professional beautician
- Sandra Lougheed refused to have her finger nails cut when asked by her boss
- The dental nurse said she would only allow a beautician to trim her long nails
- Her boss, Dr Malek Mohsen, insisted that the nurse cut back her nails for safety
- Ms Lougheed refused to trim her nails when asked for patient safety reasons
A dental nurse has lost a sex discrimination case after she refused to have her nails cut – unless it was by a beautician.
Sandra Lougheed was told her long fingernails needed a trim for health reasons.
But the ‘very experienced’ dental worker said she would only have them cut by a professional.
Her refusal led to a shouting match in the reception at the surgery where she worked and she stormed out, never to return.
Ms Lougheed then sued the practice for sex discrimination and constructive dismissal.
But she lost her case after an employment tribunal ruled she was being asked to cut her nails to protect patients not because she was a woman.
Sandra Lougheed told a hearing in south London that she was discriminated against. A tribunal disagreed and dismissed her claim
The tribunal heard that staff at the dental surgery were banned from wearing jewellery below their elbows and had to keep their nails short and unvarnished
The hearing in south London was told Ms Lougheed began working for Maxident Ltd, a dental practice providing both NHS and private care in Nunhead in April 2005.
The panel heard both male and female staff were banned from wearing jewellery below the elbow and had to keep nails short and unvarnished.
During an infection check in July 2018 an inspector found a ‘number of matters of concern’ including Ms Lougheed ‘s fingernails being ‘too long for undertaking clinical duties’, the tribunal was told.
Staff were then reminded that they had to keep them short by boss Dr Malek Mohsen.
The dental nurse ‘promised’ she would cut them, a panel heard. But matters ‘came to a head’ three months later, when they were still too long.
Dr Mohsen told the panel he had said Ms Lougheed needed to cut her nails but she ‘refused and said she would only let a beautician cut them’.
After insisting she be given the instruction in writing, Ms Lougheed was handed a letter written by HR but she ‘refused to accept’ it and walked out, before quitting in December 2018, the tribunal heard.
Ms Lougheed claimed Dr Mohsen told her to go home half way through a shift and as she was ringing her sister for advice, he slammed the door on her back causing her to scream.
She told the tribunal she then called the police after the ‘horrific’ ordeal which left her in ‘tears’.
But the company was never contacted by the police.
And the tribunal backed Dr Mohsen’s version of events after concluding her evidence was ‘somewhat unreliable’.
Dismissing her claims the panel, headed by employment judge Timothy Smith, ‘doubted’ Ms Lougheed’s claims that she was bullied and harassed by her boss.
The panel concluded: ‘The reason she was treated in the manner that she was, that is being told to have a fingernails cut, was not due to her protected characteristic of sex but because of the infection control policy.
‘The tribunal…was not persuaded that a male dental nurse in similar circumstances would not have been treated in the same manner.
‘It follows therefore that this complaint must be dismissed.’
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