Russian man refused job for looking gay because of “excessive grooming”


A fitness and nutrition store in Russia has rejected a job applicant because he sounded and looked too feminine, neat and ‘gay’.

The Russian LGBT Network reports that Edward Zavialov was denied the position of sales assistant in May at the Hardcore store in Omsk.

In a letter, Natalia Chernorai, the head of the HR office, justified the man’s rejection: “Your behaviour (feminine tone of voice and gestures) and your appearance (excessive grooming and defiant clothing) suggest that you belong to the LGBT community.”

She argued that, “with your appearance you promote non-traditional sexual relations.”

Zavialov is now suing the company for discrimination. He said he was asked offensive questions during his job interview “related to my appearance, not my experience. They asked me whether I had conflicts at my previous workplace.”

Zavialov continued: “After the interview I was told they rejected my application because I ‘look and act gay’. The employer said this might negatively affect the image of the company. Their clientele, they said, are serious people — sportspeople (also minors) – and they don’t want to have any issues.”

He added: “This was immensely upsetting because the rejection itself is based on a first impression, not on my qualifications. That is why I want to bring this case to the court.”

Under Russian law, LGBT people have no specific protection from employment discrimination. The country’s infamous “gay propaganda” law, which bans LGBT expression to minors, has in the past also been used to fire individuals. The law, in fact, was cited by the company as one of the reasons for rejecting Zavialov.

According to Meduza, the wife of the store’s owner, Natalya Chistyakova, who is also running for the Omsk city council, expressed her surprise at the case. She called Chernorai’s reasons for turning down Zavialov’s application as “shocking”, “wrong, illegal, and certainly discriminatory”.

She, however, explained that the problem was in the wording of the letter and that he was probably simply rejected because his physical fitness doesn’t meet the “unofficial standards” of the store. She further claimed that it was also likely meant to “protect” Zavyalov from homophobic customers.

The case goes to trial on 24 July.

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