An African-American woman claims she was fired from the Baltimore Inner Harbor Hooters’ restaurant because her hair color wasn’t “natural.”
Attorney Jessica P. Weber is acting for the complainant, 25-year-old Farryn Johnson, She alleges that her supervisors told her that the blonde highlights in her hair violated the appearance policy for “Hooters Girls.”
Johnson told them that other waitresses had dyed hair. She gave examples of an Asian-American woman with bright red hair, and a white woman who had black hair with platinum highlights. But her complaint fell on deaf ears. Her supervisors simply told her that her hair was “not natural” because she was African-American. She was first told off for having highlights in June but she did not change her hair color. She was fired in August.
Rebecca Sinclair, chief human resources officer for Hooters of America, said that the chain does not have different standards for waitresses of different races.
“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,”
Johnson had worked for nearly a year at Hooters, a restaurant chain that is renowned for its scantily clad buxom waitresses, and describes itself as “delightfully tacky yet unrefined.”
She said she was not the only black Hooters employee told by managers to change her hair. She alleges that others were also ordered to straighten their hair when they came to work with curly hair, even though white employees were allowed to work with curly hair.
Johnson is seeking lost wages being fired as a waitress. Hair color was not a good enough reason and she wants Hooters to change its policy.