Woman says natural hair cost her a job

Job Seeker: Hair cost her job

New Orleans, LA (WGNO) — A popular sports bar is under fire for its employee appearance policy. Apparently the standard is for female servers to have similar hair texture.

WGNO News Reporter Darian Trotter talked to management and one woman who said her hair cost her the job.

During football season, Walk-Ons Bistreaux and Bar is the place to be. So it’s no wonder why servers want to work here and cash in on energy and excitement; people like Chelsey Baptiste.

“I’ve never felt like this before ever, it made me feel like I wasn’t good enough,” Baptiste said.

She says she made it through the first interview, and was called back by a manager for a uniform fitting, and second interview. That’s when she got a once-over, from head to toe.

Her naturally curly hair became a point of contention.

“She says well you know, we go for, with the hair we go for more of a date night style.”

Dazed and confused Baptiste says she was sent away with a promise of another call back.

But it was a call back that would never happen.

“I felt discriminated against and I never knew how that felt until that day.”

She was later informed by a family member who already works at the hot spot, that the job was hers if she straightened her hair.

“This is my ethnicity this is how I was born, with hair that grows out, not down and it’s curly.”

WGNO checked with management at Walk-Ons.

They declined an on-camera interview, but in a phone conversation said there’s a “company standard” and that “it’s all about the girls” who also serve as “models who promote the business.”

“But what does that mean; I know models who have big Afros. So why does it mean that a model has to have long straight hair.”

“It’s like put a group of girls in one box and telling other girls that you’re not good enough.”

Walk-Ons released a statement saying, “We are proud of the diversity of our staff at our flagship New Orleans location, and believe this diversity is why we were awarded the Best Sports Bar in North America from ESPN in 2012. Any allegations of discrimination is offensive and is counter intuitive to our core values as a brand,” said Scott Taylor, President and COO Walk-Ons Enterprises.

Meantime, Baptiste plans to file a formal complaint with the New Orleans Human Relations Commission.

12 comments

  • DieselEMD

    Feel bad for her, but IF the company policy is held throughout the company, then so be it. They told her up front why she was not hired, so she has no gripe. Let not bring discrimination into the issue since that only means you have no other real arguement. A company should not be required to change it’s policy unless it is TRUELY a discrimatory policy.

    • Nicole

      Dieselemd I work in Human Resources and guess what, that is discrimination. It is a fact that you can’t choose whether to hire some of over their style of hair and it can’t be in your policy. So just because they have it as their policy does not mean that it is ok and she should just deal with it. Why do you think the military just got into so much trouble over hair. Bottom line is I have had to fire people over things like this because they were acting this way towards other staff of natural hair. There is nothing wrong with her hair. The only policy that can be in the manual is that hair must be well kept which hers is.

          • Mitch

            I don’t believe the young woman in this article is ugly or her hair disgusting, but I do know that there are certain “looks” that are required for certain jobs. To think that we aren’t judged by our appearances is just placing our heads soundly in the sand.
            It is like a model who weigh 350 pounds. It certainly will limit the jobs opportunities.

  • Clyde McDonald

    350 lbs is the average size of women in Hampton Roads, but in fairness, there is a large Navy population there.

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