Gnomon Longhairs Strike Back

Gnomon added two human sandwiches to the scenery in the Square when it fired two employees because of their long hair.

Two former copy machine operators. Carl Thelander and Stephan Dente, picketed the Mass Ave store for two weeks in August to protest their dismissal.

John Sytek, Gnomon vice president, said the picketing had a "serious but not catastrophic" effect on business, but added the company was willing to suffer a loss "at a matter of principle."

"We have very minimal standards of appearance," Sytek said. "But we don't want a customer to walk in with his thesis and be turned off by someone with long hair."

Dente and Thelander said they were fired after they refused to comply with an ultimatum to all employees to get their hair cut. "The management wanted to produce a new image." Store Manager Mark Cuddy explained.

Sytek said that long hair was only part of the reason behind the dismissals. He said it was a matter of "incompetence" in one can, but admitted that "a difference of principles about presentable appearance" precipitated the other firing.

Dente and Thelander have filed a lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which had previously ruled that length of hair may not be a criterion differentiating between male and female employees.

Sytek said he would change his position on personal appearance "if the law comes to bear."