Black woman says she was fired by Hooters over blond highlights
BALTIMORE - An African-American woman is alleging she was fired from the Baltimore Inner Harbor Hooters' restaurant for having an "unnatural" hair color, according to a complaint filed with Maryland Commission on Civil Rights.
Farryn Johnson, 25, claims her supervisors said her blond highlights violated the appearance policy for "Hooters Girls," according to her attorney, Jessica P. Weber of Brown, Goldstein & Levy LLP.
When Johnson pointed out that other waitresses had obviously dyed hair - an Asian-American woman had bright red hair and a white woman had black hair with platinum highlights - her supervisors said her hair was "not natural" because she was African-American, according to the complaint.
A manager at the Baltimore restaurant directed questions about the case to the corporate office. Hooters headquarters did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Johnson said she had worked for nearly a year at Hooters, a restaurant that features scantily clad buxom women in its advertisements and describes itself as "delightfully tacky yet unrefined."
She was first reprimanded for her highlights in June and, when she did not change her hair color, she was fired in August, according to the complaint.
Johnson said she was not the only black Hooters employee who was instructed by managers to change her hair. In the 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.
Johnson is seeking lost wages for the time that she has been out of work, but, just as important, she wants Hooters to change its policy, Weber said.
"She wants to show Hooters what they did was wrong and get them to change this," Weber said.
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