06/18/2013 03:07 pm ET Updated Jun 18, 2013

Melanie Strandberg Shaved Her Head To Support Her Sister, Then Had To Quit Her Hairstyling Job

It's hard enough watching someone you love battle cancer. But imagine having to choose between your job and showing your support.

That's what hairstylist Melanie Strandberg of Spokane, Wash., says she's gone through after shaving her head in support of her sister, who is undergoing her second bout with ovarian cancer. Strandberg says her employer, La Rive Salon and Spa, told her that she had to wear a wig to work because her shaved head might offend customers and inhibit her ability to market hair products. She's now suing the salon, Fox 5 reports.

“I decided that I can’t just support [my sister] 50 percent of the time,” Strandberg told Today of her decision to quit. “That’s not why I did it.”

Showing solidarity with cancer patients has sadly caused others to lose their jobs, too. In 2011, a waitress in Manitoba, Canada, claimed she was fired because she shaved her head in support of her uncle, who was dying from cancer, CBC reports. A similar incident also reportedly occurred in 2008.

Phil Haugen, general manager of La Rive's parent company, Northern Quest Resort & Casino, says the company is conducting an internal investigation of the incident.

"We pride ourselves on celebrating diversity and have always honored an employee's choice to shave his or her head in support of a friend or loved one who is battling cancer," Haugen said, according to NBC affiliate KNDO.

CORRECTION: A headline and earlier version of this story misstated the hairstylist's first name. She is Melanie, not Melissa, Strandberg.



Weird Reasons That People Get Fired