Hunters Hill Barber Saga: “Apparently, commonsense did not prevail”

Hunters Hill barber Sam Rahim gives young Lebanese tourist Philip Chalhoub a cut while he reads the latest edition of The Weekly Times (TWT On-the-Spot PHOTO)

The ridiculous saga of a Hunters Hill barber who politely declined to cut a girls hair in his men’s salon, only to have her lawyer mum take to social media, publicly accuse him of discrimination, then drag him through a year-long legal nightmare in the Federal Circuit Court, is now officially over.

In the Federal Circuit Court today, Judge Robert Cameron ordered the legal action, kicked off by Amy Carr, founder of law firm Inside Eagles, be discontinued and that each party bear its own costs.

Publicly-accessible court details confirm the matter, originally set down for hearing on October 18 was settled in mediation on July 5 to end the madness of protracted legal action, which has angered many in the community, many of whom believe Hunters Hill barber Sam Rahim is the victim, after a statement posted on his Hunters Hill Barber Facebook Page.

“I’m just glad it’s all over,” Mr Rahim told The Weekly Times.

“It was getting really stressful and it was starting to get to me because almost every customer would ask me the same question, about the legal battle and I felt I was never going to be able to get past it.

“It’s good that it’s finally over.”

What started it all

Mr Rahim was working in his small Hunters Hill shop on a Saturday in August last year when lawyer Amy Carr entered and requested he cut her daughters hair, but he declined, telling her “I’m not qualified to do ladies.. we only cut men’s hair”.

The founder of law firm Inside Eagles then took to social media, accusing Mr Rahim of discrimination on the basis of sex.

“Wow. Apparently chicks wearing an undercut (needing a trim) do not get served at Hunters Hill Barbershop because…wait for it…they are not boys,” Ms Carr said in a post on Hunters Hill Barber Facebook Page.

“Insane. Hunters Hill Barbershop might light to look up the definition of sex discrimination.”

Mr Rahim rejected the accusation through the Facebook account of his wife, Ronda Rahim.

“I have witnesses in my shop that were shocked by your behaviour for no reason when I explained to you nicely that we are barber shop and we only cut men’s hair,” he partly said in his response.

A few more terse exchanges extended through to the following Monday, with Ms Carr then refraining from further public commentary.

And things only got worse, with Ms Carr then lodged a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission, which advised Mr Rahim of the complaint but eventually chose not to resolve it either way.

Mr Rahim said when Christmas and the new year passed, he assumed the matter had been laid to rest.

But in February, he received court papers advising the dispute had moved to the jurisdiction Federal Circuit Court.

Ms Carr not named in most reports 

The legal stand-off was first brought to public attention by The Weekly Times in March this year, and gained national attention two weeks later after a TV news report of our story.

In a still image from the TV report trumpeted by Nine News as an “EXCLUSIVE”, Mr Rahim is seen perusing the genuine March 28 “exclusive” by The Weekly Times, through which Nine would have ultimately become aware of the story.

Nine said it did not name Ms Carr in its report to avoid identifying her daughter.

Following this, attempts were also made to have The Weekly Times remove Ms Carr’s name from stories already published and any future coverage.

The Weekly Times believes her public allegations against Mr Rahim through a Facebook account in her own name, justify her being identified in our coverage. We stated this in our follow-up report on the matter on April 11, 2018.

The Weekly Times also notes Ms Carr remains named in court documents as “tutor” for her daughter in proceedings and that Judge Cameron, in the Federal Circuit Court only ordered her daughter’s name be amended to the pseudonym “AB” on June 15, 2018.

Mr Rahim’s Public Statement

Mr Rahim’s Facebook statement one the weekend showed all the signs he’d been forced into an agreed statement after a protracted and stressful mediation process.

“There has been media attention recently in relation to a sex discrimination claim instituted against me for declining to provide services to a girl who entered my barber shop,” the statement said.

“Regrettably, there was a misunderstanding between the parties.I am happy to say that the proceedings have now been resolved.

“The girl is welcome in my Barber Shop any time and I would be happy to provide the same service to her as I do for other customers, regardless of gender.”

The reaction on social media was swift and strong, with comments posted in response to the statement showing overwhelming support for the barber.

Perhaps the most succinct, that appeared to resonate strongly with Mr Rahim’s supporters came from Jane Nicolle.

“Apparently common sense did not prevail,” commented Jane Nicolle.

Others – it appears, with limited understanding of Australia’s legal system and its anomalies – criticised Mr Rahim for allowing Ms Carr to win in what they believed was an important matter of principle.

No response

The Weekly Times contacted Ms Carr for comment via email but an automatic response advised she was overseas and she has not since replied to our requests for comment and further detail.

Noting the statement posted by Mr Rahim, we had asked Ms Carr whether she requested the court “issue any other orders as part of the terms of this settlement”>

We also asked: “Do you regret pursuing this matter legally or were there matters of principle too important to reach an amicable agreement with the other party?” and “Do you plan to celebrate your victory?”

Two colleagues at Ms Carr’s law firm, nominated by Ms Carr as alternative contacts, also did not return requests for information and comment.