Cut Off Your Hair Or Get Fired

locs-and-twist-curl

Here We Go Again.

I tell you, I’m getting tired of this and also very very very angry that this keeps happening. Surprised that it does? No. But rightfully angry and exhausted at the racism expressed trying to masquerade as “professionalism” and “company policy”.

This woman was hired wearing the beautiful dreadlocks she’s worn for over 10 years. She was given a positive review of her work performance early on by her immediate supervisor. So documented evidence that she was doing things professionally, and within the company’s guidelines and expectations.

Scant weeks after her hire, there comes this new company policy that deems (specifically for women) dreadlocks (and also braids and cornrows) and other styles like mullets and mohawks as unacceptable. She is given the ultimatum to cut off her dreads or be fired.

~*~

I have questions. First, I know some things, being a person who has not only worked in Human Resources, but was also responsible for drawing up an employee handbook – the same type that is depicted in the article – and company guidelines to be included in same.

Those things take time. You know months in advance what is to be included in such a handbook, and also, any changes that come up are discussed at length and there is lengthy process – usually taking at least 30 days – usually more to be added into the existing document.

What I’m saying is, if that new policy about acceptable hairstyles was to be rolled out in the time line given, they would have already known that she would be in violation if hired. They should have told her that at the interview/hiring conversation. Hey, a heads up, company policy change coming.

But of course, they couldn’t do that, because I believe that is illegal. I really don’t know. But highly sketchy and problematic at the very least, and they knew that. So they waited until after she was hired, to try a runaround.

Or, the other scenario – which is much more likely, given the information at hand – goes something like this:

She is hired. She is wanted for her skills, and looks like an excellent fit. She is told she’s working out great by the person who presumably hired her, her direct supervisor. Great match, everyone is happy.

Except, not everyone. I’m guessing a couple two three employees had conniption fits about her dreadlocks. I’ll bet you complaints were made. And hence this rapid writing up and adding in of this new policy that wasn’t on the books to begin with.

~*~

The end of the segment says she has until this Friday to make her decision. I hope she does the following. Hires/finds a lawyer. Stays at her job and refuses to cut off her hair. Continues to seek out media attention on her case.

Because somewhere in there a law or two was broken, I can just feel it in my bones. There is a very racially targeted aspect to those new policies. Who is more likely to wear dreadlocks, braids and cornrows? I love that they threw in the mohawk and mullet hairstyles too. Remember, this was in the section specifically directed at female employees.

Ashley Davis should stick to her guns, stand her ground with the protection of a lawyer. It isn’t an easy thing to do. She might get fired. Jobs are hard to come by for Black women, believe me, I know. She has significant media attention, so maybe there are people already asking to represent her if she wishes to have legal help in this matter.

I’ve been wrongfully fired from several jobs. Not over hair, but over some other stuff I won’t go into. Most of those times I let it ride, and just kept it stepping. On other occasions I demanded a hearing. I always won. Because at least in California, you can’t fire people all willy-nilly despite that “At Will” whatever law they have.

So I’ll understand if she just ditches out of that job and moves on. I’ll also understand if she fights it. I can wish and hope she does what I would like her to do, but in the end it comes down to her personal choice, just like it did for me.

~*~

These policies that deem natural hairstyles for women of color, specifically Black women are racist. Pure and simple. Just a few weeks ago, we had yet another incident where a little Black girl (Tiana Parker) was sent home from school because her beautiful, neat and clean dreadlocks were deemed unacceptable.

“Health and Safety” was stated as some of the reasons why this school had a ban on dreadlocks, afros, braids and other natural hairstyles. In a school that is nearly 100% African-American.

Internalized racism is a sonofabitch.

How is the hair that grows naturally out of my head, and the styles that come with that unacceptable and unprofessional?

Hair that does not look like, or is styled like white woman’s hair can be punishable by expulsion from school and firing from jobs.

~*~

Remember my Make Them Pay “campaign”? Well this smacks of the same shenanigans that restaurant pulled. Someone or someONES made some racist complaints against Ms. Davis. Some other one or ONES agreed to back their racism and put forth that new policy.

That’s fine.

You can be racist all day long. Have at it.

But.

There Will Be A Price To PAY.

They are so lucky this wasn’t me. I’d sue their asses up and down and sideways. I’d pull down such media attention on that company (Tower Loan in St. Peters, MO btw) that they’d be firing anyone and everyone who had a part in bringing that new policy to fruition.

They would become the poster child for racial sensitivity or go bankrupt – whichever comes first, or however the chips fell, because I’d make doing business with that company become the last thing any consumer would want to do, and other corporate entities shy away from being associated with them in any way, shape or fashion.

Like I said in that post: It should become an extreme financial liability for businesses, companies and corporations to practice racism, to employ racists, to back up racist employees, to implement racist policies, to be seen as being a racist entity etc.

Shining a spotlight works.

Boycotts work.

Social/media attention and campaigns work.

No matter what Ashley Davis decides to do, I suggest letting Tower Loan know how you feel about what they are doing:

Here’s their corporate website. Here is their contact page.

Here’s their twitter.

Here’s their facebook.

Here is the St. Peters branch info:

3344 MID RIVER MALL DRIVE
ST. PETERS, MO 63376
636-278-5000

Be polite. Be professional. Express your disappointment in what they are doing to Ashley Davis at their St. Peters, MO location.

Let them know that you won’t be using their services because of what they are doing.

Let them know that you will also be recommending that same action to your social (family and friends) and business networks. You can even wish them good luck in their future endeavors.

_______________________________________________

For those of my readers who are white women, I want you to imagine what your reaction would be if you were told that your hair and the natural styles you wear it in were suddenly cause for you to be fired from your job.
That you would either have to cut off most of your hair, and/or use harmful chemical agents in your hair in order to make it more “professional” in order to keep your job.
Your pony tail, that cute bob, that pert chignon, that tousled cropped do  – whatever it was you had your hair styled as, that was natural for your type of hair: Unacceptable. Against company policy. Unprofessional.
Imagine your daughter being sent home to you with demands that you alter her hair/style significantly before she was allowed back to school.
This happens often, all the damn time, plenty more than the the stories that do make it to the media. Black women being threatened with firing when they decide to ditch the chemicals and grow their hair naturally.
Happens every damn day.
Imagine how you would feel if that happened to you. Or maybe even not you personally, but you see it happening over and over to women that looked like you.
How would you feel? What would  you do?
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About Awake BW

Black Celibate Buddhist Nun Insomniac Wordsmith iDance Womanist Domme iRead Incognegro Our Lady Of The Two Black Cats Educated Bodhisattva Silver Glitter Nailpolish Is My Crack TWiB Addicted Ain't I A Woman.
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9 Responses to Cut Off Your Hair Or Get Fired

  1. Stacey Kay says:

    This is so ridiculous and I can’t believe SOMEBODY at that company didn’t think HMMM THIS SEEMS A LITTLE RACIST. Completely unacceptable. I tweeted your post and posted on their FB page. Thanks for sharing.

    • Awake BW says:

      You’re welcome, Stacey, and Thank YOU for the signal boost. I swear I’m getting so damn tired of this happening again and again.

      • Stacey Kay says:

        Me too. Something’s got to change. I am in the midst of a racism crisis in MY town too, just posted on my blog a few weeks ago where a popular bar owner was caught yelling racial slurs into a group of people and selectively denying black people from entering based on a “dress code” reminiscent of the one that this young lady is facing. I’m still astounded by the ignorant responses and comments that I receive about the issue from people. I’ve had to change a lot of opinions about people that I’ve known for a long time because of the things that came out of their mouth. So sad. This country is in crisis. The media needs to change. The education system has to change. The government needs to change. UGH. But you are fighting the good fight, so keep it up. :-)

  2. revmatthews says:

    For those of you who find it difficult to write letters to companies, may I make a suggestion:

    Cut…..and……paste.

    Oh, wait, I’m sorry. Click on the link to the TL website first. Nothing happens if you don’t.

    Just finished my very professional letter of protest (written in part by my favorite Buddhist nun) to my local TL. With their 3-figure annual interest rates, I hope they choke on it.

    Bastids. (Creole spelling, sorry.)

  3. jen says:

    I think any policy whatsoever on how a person styles his or her hair is absolutely revolting. This is my BODY. Whether I style my hair into a mowhawk or dye it green, this is my own hair. I really hope my own generation rights this wrong, and embraces creativity as we take over the leadership of companies. I worked for The Body Shop, which had company policy that hair may not be dyed any unnatural colors. I (a female) shaved my head.

  4. smh that is crazy, oh so I see it says no dreadlocks, braids or cornrows, hmm I don’t see no afros but I bet if someone showed up to work with a fro they’d hurry up and add that to the list as well. It’s some bs to have this new policy right after someone is hired that has one of the now banned hairstyles. That sistah in that pic is beautiful I love her hair. It is a pity that they want us to have our hair relaxed or straightened, I quit the creamy crack early this year and am loving my natural hair. I hope she sues these mofos.

  5. Reblogged this on InnerStanding Isness and commented:
    Cut Off Your Hair Or Get Fired

  6. rahima456 says:

    Reblogged this on Blogging in Indy and commented:
    Injustice!!!!

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