A Banana Republic manager has been accused of threatening to cut a Black employee’s hours for wearing box braids to work, calling her popular hairstyle “urban and unkempt.”
According to a recent Facebook post, Destiny Tompkins laid out the whole incident, explaining that her manager at the Westchester, New York branch pulled her aside to warn her about her hair after the company’s District Manager complained about it. Both mangers are white.
“I came in and he questioned me about the dress code and immediately, I thought there was something wrong with my outfit but he sat me down and questioned my hair instead,” the college sophomore wrote on social media.
“He told me that my braids were not Banana Republic appropriate and that they were too “urban” and “unkempt” for their image. He said that if I didn’t take them out then he couldn’t schedule me for shifts until I did.”
Tompkins, who has only been working at the clothing store for a month, added: “I have never been so humiliated and degraded in my life by a white person.”
She also tried to explain to her boss about protective styling, but it seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.
“Box braids are not a matter of unprofessionalism, they are protective styles black women have used for their hair and to be discriminated against because of it is truly disgusting and unacceptable,” she wrote.
“There’s no reason why a white person should feel allowed to tell me that I can’t wear my hair the way that I want bc it’s too black for their store image. #boycottbanana Banana Republic.”
A spokesperson from Banana Republic stated that “as a company, we have zero tolerance for discrimination. We take this matter very seriously and we are actively conducting an investigation. We are committed to upholding an inclusive environment where our customers and our employees feel respected.”
As the New York Daily News points out, despite the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission considering treating someone differently based on hair texture race discrimination, many judges have not ruled in favor of plaintiffs suing employers for that kind of discrimination.
Just last year we reported that an appeals court ruled that banning employees from wearing their hair in dreadlocks is not a form of racial discrimination. The lawsuit was brought to the court of appeals by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which charged that an Alabama insurance claims processing company had discriminated against Chastity Jones in 2010. They offered her employment [but stated] that she needed to get rid of her dreadlocks because of their grooming standards. When Jones refused, the company withdrew its offer of employment.
Why can’t the world just let Black women and our hair be great?