Akua Agyemfra wore extensions during her job interview and first two training shifts to be a server at Jack Astor’s Bar & Grill in Toronto. On her third training day, Agyemfra lost the extensions and wore her hair in a natural bun, and that is when she says the problems began.
Agyemfra says that her manager told her she would have to wear her hair down. Agyemfra told CBC News that once she took her hair out, her manager “could see it doesn’t go down.”
“She was really nice about it,” Agyemfra told CBC News. “But it still doesn’t take away from the fact that she sent me home.”
Agyemfra says that she was never informed of the bar’s hair policy.
Kathryn Long, a marketing manager for Jack Astor’s, told People magazine that the bar has written standards that allow for workers to wear their “hair down” or up in a “stylish updo.”
“We work hard to be a responsible, fair and respectful employer, providing a safe and comfortable environment for every staff member,” she said.
After speaking with her mother about the incident, Agyemfra decided not to return to work.
“I know most black women at restaurants are forced to wear wigs or weaves or extensions, or are forced to straighten their hair every day. Don’t get me wrong, I think extensions look great. I’ve been wearing them ever since I was a little girl. I love when I get my braids. It’s the protective style I choose and works for me,” she told CBC News. “But why am I scrutinized when I decide to take them out? That’s not fair.
“I’m not going to compromise my roots and edges because my employer wants me to,” she continued. “My scalp has a right to breathe just as much as the woman standing beside me.”