The arbitration at issue arose from a former Hooter’s waitress, Farryn Johnson who claimed that she was fired because of the blonde streaks that she wore in her head—a problem, because she is African American. Farryn claims that the restaurant terminated her because it prohibited African American women who work for the company from wearing blonde highlights in their hair. Farryn alleged that the manager told her that she could not have blonde streaks in her hair because it is unnatural because “black people don’t have blonde hair.”
Farryn sued Hooters based on their grooming policy. Hooters released a statement saying that the arbitrator who decided the case was biased towards Farryn and that if she had settled with Hooters, she would have had a settlement four times the size of the $250,000 in damages that was awarded. Hooters categorically denies that there was any discrimination on this basis, saying that not allowing African Americans to wear blond in their hair could not be further from the truth. In the articles that I was able to uncover, the arbitrator’s reasoning for the award was that the “hair policy was implemented in a discriminatory manner adversely affecting African-American women” and that it violated state and federal civil rights laws.
The arbitrator, Edmund D. Cooke Jr. concluded that the grooming policy is discriminatory and very subjective in its application because there was no objective way for managers to assess whether the Hooter’s Girls complied with the policy, this in large part because the recommendation says only that the Girls should wear “the right hair color for their skin tone.”
A CNN Report about natural hair in corporate America.
A PBS documentary about natural hair.
The American Civil Liberties Union is a great online resource. The ACLU is an organization comprised of activists who fight for justice, equality, and freedom for Americans. The ACLU website is a free online resource that is updated regularly, and provides helpful information about case outcomes and resolutions.
The NAACP is another helpful, free, and regularly updated online resource. The NAACP provides information from diversity inclusion, to economic education. The NAACP strives to support minorities and aid in the end of discrimination in America.