Sam Rahim (right) has received an outpouring of support on social media over his legal battle. Source: Facebook
Sam Rahim (right) has received an outpouring of support on social media over his legal battle. Source: Facebook

‘Exhausted’ over haircut refusal

AN EIGHT-month-long legal wrangle has finally ended for a Sydney barber who eventually settled a dispute over refusing to cut a girl's hair.

The incident occurred before Christmas when a young girl's mother claimed Sam Rahim, who owns Hunters Hill Barber in the city's northern suburbs, refused to "simply run the clippers through my daughter's undercut, because she was a girl".

She claimed he breached the Sex Discrimination Act and escalated it to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, despite the small business owner explaining that he was not trained to cut women's hair.

Mr Rahim told news.com.au that he went through an extremely stressful time during the months-long battle and even considered closing his shop on several occasions.

Settling the case at mediation, ahead of its October court date, the now-relieved barber posted:

"There has been media attention recently in relation to a sex discrimination claim instituted against me for declining to provide services to a girl who entered my barber shop.

"Regrettably, there was a misunderstanding between the parties.

"I am happy to say that the proceedings have now been resolved."

Mr Rahim went on to say that "the girl is welcome in my barber shop any time and would be happy to provide the same service to her as I do for other customers, regardless of gender".

The barber said he was "mentally tired and exhausted" over the incident which took place in his shop back in December 2017.

At the time, Mr Rahim said he offered the woman, who works for a Sydney law firm, an apology and explained he was not qualified to cut women's hair.

He tried to direct her to a salon up the road, but she stormed out in anger.

"We do welcome women; they are welcome to come. But it depends on my experience and if I can cut their hair or not," Mr Rahim told news.com.au.

"I tell them I am not qualified, that I am not really good with females' hair and they thank me when I point them to the salon near us.

"Unfortunately this lady wanted to take me to court."

Mr Rahim said he could not change the law in Australia and, in future, if a male, female, transgender - or any gender - client came into his barber shop and would like a buzz cut, (a cut within his capabilities) "it would be against the law to say 'no'".

"These are the current laws in Australia and, at the moment, barbers have no exemptions like women-only gyms," he said.

 

Sam Rahim (right) has received an outpouring of support on social media over his legal battle. Source: Facebook
Sam Rahim (right) has received an outpouring of support on social media over his legal battle. Source: Facebook

Mr Rahim told news.com.au that the stress of the lengthy legal battle left him contemplating whether he should close his shop - but it was the community support that helped him through it.

"When I was going through this, every morning that I would come into my shop, I actually didn't want to be there," he said.

"But the community support, not just in Australia but around the world, really helped me and motivated me to keep on going and to do my job.

"A letter was sent to me from a 90-year-old lady from South Australia with a $100 cheque inside. It put me to tears.

"I would read it every morning before I started work to motivate me. I'll keep it forever."

One Facebook user responded to his recent post saying: "Ridiculous. I'm glad you are able to move on after what this woman put you through."

 

Outside Mr Rahim's barber shop in Hunters Hill, Sydney. Picture: Facebook
Outside Mr Rahim's barber shop in Hunters Hill, Sydney. Picture: Facebook

Mr Rahim also received postcards of support from Germany, Denmark and the United States.

"It's things like that really helped me. I was mentally tired and exhausted," he said.

The community supported him from day one even throwing funds towards his impending legal battle - a GoFundMe campaign set up to help pay his fees has raised more than $32,400.

Now the case won't make the court, Mr Rahim said he'll use the funds to pay his legal team and any left over will be given away - however, he is yet to cop the final bill.

"I really just want to thank everyone for their support in helping me through this time," Mr Rahim said.

News.com.au reached out to the mum who made the original complaint but a response was not received.