Farryn Johnson (pictured) has filed a racial discrimination complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights against the popular eatery chain, Hooters. The former waitress, who worked at the Baltimore Harborplace Hooters location, alleges in the filing that she was fired from her position because she sported blond highlights and was told her hair color violated the company’s employee image standards according, to CBS Baltimore.
Johnson contends she worked with other non-black employees who wore their hair in different shades and received no repercussions. The 25-year-old woman, however, claims she was singled out by her employers and warned that blond hair on blacks was not a look they felt was acceptable. The young woman told CBS Baltimore, “They gave me write-ups and they told me I need to take the color out of my hair. And they said I couldn’t have blonde in my hair because I’m black. They specifically said, ‘Black women don’t have blonde in their hair, so you need to take it out,’” she stated.
Johnson is being represented by attorney Jessica Weber, who spoke to CBS Baltimore about the double-standard bias. “What’s wrong is that both federal and state law clearly say employers can’t impose two separate and distinct rules governing employee standards –- one for African-American employees and one for everyone else. And that’s clearly what Hooters did here,” Weber said.
CBS Baltimore also asked Delegate Mary Washington, who is drafting legislation that would prevent employers from requiring or prohibiting specific hairstyles, to weigh in on Johnson’s controversial filing. Washington points out that Johnson is just one of many who are being put through the wringer at their places of employment because of the way they wear their hair. “There’s some women and men who are told to dye their hair, that if they are gray, somehow they are not projecting a youthful image. So I think really further clarifying hair and restricting employers from doing that, will help all kinds of people,” said Washington.
Meanwhile, Hooters declined to comment on the Johnson case.