A Banana Republic who allegedly told an employee that he refused to schedule more shifts for her because he felt her braids were too ‘urban’ and ‘unkempt’ for the chain retailer’s image has been fired.
Destiny Tompkins wrote in a Facebook post that she had been employed at the chain’s Westchester Mall location in White Plains, New York.
Tompkins said that after the store’s district manager, who is white, came to visit, she was called into the office of her store manager, who is also white.
‘He told me that my braids were not Banana Republic appropriate and that they were too “urban” and “unkempt” for their image.
‘He said that if I didn’t take them out then he couldn’t schedule me for shifts until I did.
‘When I tried to explain to him that it was a protective style for my hair [because] it tends to become really brittle in the cold, he recommended that I use shea butter for it instead.
‘In that moment, I felt so uncomfortable and overwhelmed that I didn’t even finish my work shift and ended up leaving.’
Tompkins said that she does not know the last name of her manager but hopes her post will go public in order to ‘expose’ the store for its ‘blatant racism and discrimination’.
‘Box braids are not a matter of unprofessionalism, they are protective styles black women have used for their hair and to be discriminated against because of it is truly disgusting and unacceptable,’ she wrote. ‘There’s no reason why a white person should feel allowed to tell me that I can’t wear my hair the way that I want [because] it’s too black for their store image.’
The question of whether employers are allowed to discriminate based on hair texture is murky, despite the practice technically being labelled as discrimination under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
A Banana Republic spokesperson said Sunday that the manager has been fired.