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Ex-Hooters employee files discrimination suit

Missouri readers may be interested to know that a 25-year-old African-American woman claims Hooters fired her because she had some of her hair highlighted. She is suing Hooters for workplace discrimination because she alleges the restaurant chain doesn't impose the same hair color standards on waitresses of other races.

The ex-waitress's complaint to the Maryland Civil Rights Commission alleges that the discrimination took place between June 30 and Aug. 23. She claims she came to work with blond highlights, but a supervisor told her that it was "improper" to have blond in her hair since she was African-American, she alleges, so she was ordered to remove it. She could not comply, she says, because she couldn't afford to change it back. After some written warnings, she was fired. In her complaint, she claims that Hooters has more restrictive beauty standards for black women. She listed as an example the fact that a waitress of Asian descent dyed the tips of her hair colors that were very different from her natural dark hair color; she wasn't told to change it by management.

Hooters released a statement stating that certain "standards" must be followed and that employees need to be "camera-ready at all times" in keeping with the "wholesome" and "glamourous" look that the company claims has made it "iconic brand." It asserted that it doesn't have different standards for hair based on the employee's race.

If individuals feel that their employers fired them because of workplace standards that are unevenly enforced, an employment law attorney could review the case. It may be possible for an attorney to negotiate a settlement and compensate them for lost wages and possibly allow them to get their jobs back. In addition, such claims can send a strong message to employers that discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, gender or age is unacceptable.

Source: International Business Times, "Fired Waitress Hair: Black Ex-Hooters Employee Farryn Johnson Files Discrimination Suit, Claims Baltimore Hooters Canned Her Because Of Blonde Highlights", Howard Koplowitz, October 24, 2013

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