After refusing to let her nails be cut by professional beauty therapists, a dental nurse is accused of sex discrimination.

  • Sandra Lougheed declined to get her fingers trimmed by her boss
  • According to the dental nurse, she wouldn’t allow any beauticians to cut her nails.
  • Dr Malek Mohsen her boss insisted on the nurse cutting back her nails to ensure safety
  • When Ms. Lougheed was asked about patient safety, she refused to trim her nails.  

After refusing to have her nails trimmed by beauticians, a dental nurse lost a case of sex discrimination.

Sandra Lougheed had her long fingernails trimmed for health reasons.

However, the “very skilled” dental worker stated that she wouldn’t have them cut by anyone but a professional.

She refused to do so, which led to shouting matches at the reception of the surgery where her work was done.

Ms. Lougheed sued then the practice for sexual discrimination, constructive dismissal and other grounds.

She lost the case to an employment tribunal, which ruled that her request to cut nails was for patient protection and not to be considered a woman.

Sandra Lougheed claimed that she had been discriminated against at a South London hearing. The tribunal did not agree and she was denied 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

Hearings revealed that the staff of the dental clinic were forbidden from wearing any jewellery above their elbows. They also had to maintain their natural nails.

In London, Ms Lougheed was informed that she began work for Maxident Ltd. in April 2005. The practice provided both NHS care and private services in Nunhead.

Panel members heard that both female and male staff had been told to stop wearing jewelry below the elbow. They also were instructed not to have their nails trimmed or varnished.

An inspector discovered a “number of concerns” during an infection control check that took place in July 2018. Ms. Lougheed’s fingernails were ‘too long to perform clinical duties, according to the tribunal.

The boss, Dr Malek Mohsen reminded the staff that they must keep their heads down.

A panel was told that the dental nurse promised she would trim them. However, three months later the matter came to a head when they were too long.

Dr Mohsen said to Ms Lougheed that he said she had to do her nails. But she refused and said she would let a professional cut them.

Ms. Lougheed demanded that she was given written instructions. HR gave her a letter, but she refused to take it. After walking out of the office, she quit the tribunal in December 2018.

Ms Lougheed stated that Dr Mohsen had told her to come home at half-way through a shift. As she was calling her sister to get advice, he knocked on the door and caused her to scream.

After the ordeal, she told the tribunal that it was a traumatic experience and left her with ‘tears’.

The police did not contact the company.

The tribunal agreed with Dr Mohsen after finding her evidence’somewhat inconsistent’.

Timothy Smith, an employment judge, dismissed Ms. Lougheed’s allegations that she had been bullied and harassed under her boss.

Panel concluded that the reason that she was told to trim her fingernails was because she had a protected sexual characteristic. It was due to the policy of infection control.

“The Tribunal…wasn’t persuaded” that a male dentist in comparable circumstances wouldn’t have been treated the same way.

“It follows that this complaint should be dismissed.”