Beautician with Bad Breath Wins Lawsuit, Loses Job

Was it her bad breath? Her boss says it was – at least, in part. New Zealand resident Rashmi Bhola was sacked from her job as a hairdresser not too long ago, and now news sources report that she’s been awarded $8,000 as part of a settlement over an unjustified dismissal.

Can people get fired for having halitosis? Should oral odor be a terminable offense? While you probably shouldn’t get canned for bad breath alone, it does appear to happen.

Although, from the sound of it, Bhola had bad breath and a bad attitude.

A lot of hot air

According to the Otago Daily Times, Bhola worked as a hairdresser and beautician in Kess Hair and Beauty, an Auckland-based salon. Her manager, Gurpreet Arora, did not have good things to say about her, noting that just three weeks after she started, he had to give her a verbal warning for gossiping about his family to other employees. Arora also kept hearing from customers that Bhola was “arrogant and unwilling to listen to the customers requirements.”

But the worst part, apparently, was her breath.

Both her co-workers and her clients complained that Bhola had truly atrocious halitosis. The court report explains that her boss “was cautious about raising this with Mrs. Bhola and made suggestions that she should perhaps chew mints or receive some assistance from a dentist.”

When that didn’t happen, he fired her.

Was it justified?

Mrs. Bhola has since won a wrongful termination suit and collected some back pay, but did she deserve to be fired in the first place? Mr. Arora claimed that his former employee’s terrible manners and oral odor were “destroying the business reputation” of his salon, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. So maybe, in the aggregate, she earned it.

But bad breath alone? Do you think halitosis by itself would be a fireable offense?

Rather than finding out firsthand, it’s better to be safe and use a specialty alcohol-free mouthwash after every meal. That, in combination with oxygenating toothpaste and a gel-and-tray teeth whitening kit, can improve your smile and freshen your breath double-quick.

Assuming you smile at all. It sounds from the reports as if Bhola’s biggest offense was to, well, offend clients with her bad manners and lack of listening skills. Her bad breath may have just been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

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