A Maryland arbitrator awarded former Hooters waitress, Farryn Johnson, $250,000 after determining that the restaurant was guilty of racial discrimination. Hooters fired Johnson, who is African American, for getting blonde highlights in her hair. Her white co-workers were allowed to keep their highlights, but according to Johnson, she was given six weeks to change her hair color and when she didn’t comply, she was fired.

“Black people don’t have blonde hair.”

Hooters has an “image policy” and that is permitted, as long as the company applies it consistently to all of their servers, regardless of race. One of the rules in the policy is that hair cannot be dyed more than two shades from a natural color. Johnson says that when she asked her manager why she was being required to change her hair color he told her, “black people don’t have blonde hair.”

Edmund Cooke Jr., the arbitrator who ruled against Hooters, says the policy is “vague and subjective” and that the materials the company tells its managers to look at to determine what fits the policy depicts white women with hair colors that are more than two shades from natural.

Johnson began working at a Baltimore area Hooters restaurant in September, 2012. She filed her complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after she was fired on August 12, 2013.

If you have been the victim of racial discrimination in the workplace in New Jersey, please call the attorneys of Lenzo & Reis, LLC, at 973-845-9922 or email us for a free case evaluation.