A White Plains, NY Banana Republic manager found himself out of a job when he told one of his employees that her braids were not appropriate.
The company fired the manager after he told 19-year-old Destiny Thompkins that her hair braids violated the company dress code.
Thompkins, who has been working there about a month, explained the incident on Facebook, writing: “Today I went into work at Banana Republic at the Westchester Mall and after the district manager (a white woman) popped in for a visit, I was told to go to the office to speak with my manager, Michael (Mike), who is a white man. 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. He told me that my braids were not Banana Republic appropriate and that they were too ‘urban’ and ‘unkempt’ for their image.”
Just. Wow. Too urban for their image?
She added: “He said that if I didn’t take them out then he couldn’t schedule me for shifts until I did.”
Thompkins believed the manager’s criticism of her hair was unwarranted and explained that many black women put their hair in braids to protect it from being damaged. She explained, “I said, ‘Okay, I was looking for a new job anyway.’ He said, ‘Oh, you can quit today if you want.'”
Thompkins further noted in her Facebook post: “I have never been so humiliated and degraded in my life by a white person. In that moment, I felt so uncomfortable and overwhelmed that I didn’t even finish my work shift and ended up leaving.”
Banana Republic released a statement explaining that there was an investigation into the matter, with spokesperson Sheikina Liverpool emailing Eyewitness News to inform them that the manager had been fired.
Liverpool wrote: “This week, one of our store managers questioned an African American employee’s braided hair style. Our team began an immediate investigation and the manager involved was promptly removed from the store. Today we concluded the investigation and can confirm that the manager has been terminated from the company. Banana Republic has zero tolerance for discrimination. This situation was completely unacceptable, counter to our policies, and in no way reflects our company’s beliefs and values.”
Thompkins did note that she is considering taking legal action, saying, “I felt so overwhelmed and confused. I just felt so powerless within that moment.”
Many people weighed in with comments on the WGN TV Facebook post about the story, with one person explaining: “Employers have a right to fire you for any reason. While you’re on their time if they think that looks not what their standards are they have a right to say something. I don’t agree with it but it is the way this country works. You are representing your employer while you’re at work and if they don’t like the way something is they have a right to tell you to change it.”
One commenter responded: “I have never seen in any handbook written for companies about urban hair whatever you want to call it. This is 100% discrimination and she has the right to sue… also win.”
Another person offered this comment: “Two thoughts: 1) Her braids are beautiful. 2) The manager fired her after a visit by the district manager. Clearly the problem continues up higher in the company.”