A former Hooters waitress is claiming that she was fired from her job because she had highlights in her hair. Farryn Johnson, who's African-American, has filed a racial discrimination complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Right, claiming that her termination was racism, plain and simple.
And before everyone starts regaling their tales of how their boss was right to fire the girl from the accounting department that one time after she put a magenta streak in her hair because it was unprofessional, hear Johnson out. There's more to the story.
Johnson told CBS that the reason for her being fired from Hooters was due to "improper image." She was apparently asked to take the blonde streak out of her hair, because, as Hooters put it, "Black women don't have blonde in their hair." Johnson said: "I didn't see that it would be a big issue just because there were a lot of other employees working at the restaurant of other races with color in their hair. For instance, there were Asian girls with red hair and Caucasian girls with black hair and blond streaks so I didn't think it would be an issue for the little piece of blond highlight in my hair."
But wait. It gets worse.
Johnson also claims she wasn't the only black employee asked to change her hair. In her complaint, she alleges that others were ordered to straighten their hair when they came to work with curly hair, even though white employees were allowed to work with curly hair. And this right here, to me at least, is where the racism couldn't be any more unabashed. If Hooters' thing is a "natural look" (which, come on, people, what's natural about Hooters?), it's sort of understandable that they wouldn't want employees -- any of their employees, not just the African-American ones -- having "unnatural-colored" streaks in their hair. But the notion of white girls being able to wear their hair curly, and black girls not being able to is ridiculous.
In a statement, Hooters' chief human resources officer said: "When you’re representing an iconic brand there are standards to follow. Hooters Girls are required to be camera-ready at all times to promote the glamorous, wholesome look for which Hooters is known. Hooters adamantly denies that it has different policies and standards for hair based on race. As a global brand, Hooters embraces our culturally diverse employee base and our standards are applied impartially."
Hmm. Guess it's a case of he said/she said right now. But something tells me that Hooters is going to lose this battle. If Johnson can prove what she's alleging is true, they don't really have a leg to stand on.
What do you think of Johnson's firing?
Image via espensorvik/Flickr