Someone should have sent the manager at a Baltimore Hooters these photos of chocolate-complexioned natives in Australia with naturally blond hair, because that might have saved the restaurant chain over $250,000. That’s the amount of money Farryn Johnson, a former waitress, was awarded in a lawsuit she filed in 2013 after she said she was fired for wearing blond highlights in her hair, NBC News reports.
In her lawsuit, Johnson explained that while her colleagues were allowed to highlight their hair and wear blond streaks, she was told by her manager that she was not allowed to wear blond streaks because blond streaks don’t look natural on African-American women.
"The manager at the time literally said, 'You can't have blond because black people don't have blond hair,' " Johnson told NBC affiliate WBAL-TV.
Johnson wore her hair how she wanted anyway and said that little by little, she began to be punished for wearing her blond streaks. First her hours were cut, and then, eventually, she was let go.
"I was shocked. I couldn't believe it," Johnson said.
An arbitrator last Thursday wrote that Hooters violated state and federal civil rights laws by implementing the hair policy in a manner that "adversely [affected] African-American women." As a result, the arbitrator awarded Johnson more than $250,000 in lost wages and legal fees.
Hooters categorically denies firing Johnson because of the blond streaks in her hair.
"Nothing could be further from the truth," Erika Whitaker, a brand manager at Hooters, said in a statement issued to the press.
Whitaker said that as an African-American woman herself, she never experienced that kind of discrimination when she worked as a Hooters waitress and wore her hair in different styles and colors.
"As a former Hooters girl who happens to be African American, I, like countless other African-American Hooters girls today, regularly wore my hair in various shades of blond, or any other color consistent with our 'girl next door' image," Whitaker argued.
Read more at KARE 11.