A former African-American BP executive claims she was fired by her ex-employer because her colleagues and superiors were uncomfortable with her ethnic hair style and attire, among other racial incidents, Courthouse News Service reports.
Melphine Evans (pictured) is suing BP West Coast Products, BP Products North America and nine people, in Orange County Superior Court after working with the company for nearly 10 years. Evans, who served as West Coast CFO of British Petroleum Oil Co. in La Palma, Calif. at the time of her dismissal, says she was replaced by a younger, White man after a “series of overtly racist complaints.”
In her 24-page lawsuit, she claims her supervisors told her she was the problem after complaining about the racial and gender discrimination she claims she was experiencing. Some of the alleged comments directed at Evans include the following:
“‘You intimidate and make your colleagues uncomfortable by wearing ethnic clothing and ethnic hairstyles (‘Dashikis,’ ‘twists,’ ‘braids/cornrows’). On one occasion, a BP representative went so far as to ask Ms. Evans ‘if she understood that wearing a “dashiki” to work makes her colleagues feel uncomfortable?’
“If you insist on wearing ethnic clothing/hairstyles-you should only do so during ‘culture day,’ black history month or special diversity events/days.’
“‘If you are going to wear ethnic clothing, you should alert people in advance that you will be wearing something ethnic …’
“‘We didn’t take any action against the contractor who placed the noose in the Cherry Point refinery because we weren’t really sure the rope that was placed there was meant to harass or intimidate employees … sometimes refinery employees practice tying knots and since there aren’t that many black employees at the refinery and the knot in the rope was not tied like a noose knot, we don’t believe it symbolized racial hatred or violence…’
“‘They hate you and they are going to get you.'”
Courthouse News reached out to BP for comment and spokesman Scott Dean had this to say: “Generally, BP does not publicly discuss personnel issues. However, BP treats all employees fairly. BP disagrees with the claims and will vigorously defend the suit.”
Listen below as National Action Network’s Janaye Ingram and Black Bloggers Connect’s Jessica Ann Mitchell discuss the topic on NewsOne Now with Roland Martin.
Get the full story here, but we have a question for you: In a corporate environment, should Black people even dare to wear ethnic hairstyles and clothing, knowing very well they work in predominately White environments where such styles will likely be met with fierce (and even racist) resistance?