A Zara employee in Toronto was left feeling hurt and frustrated after her store managers allegedly took her outside and scolded her for wearing her hair in braids.
According to 20-year-old Cree Ballah, her long hair had been styled into box braids and swept back into a ponytail on the day in question, the CBC reported. She said she was initially approached by a manager, who asked her to take her hair down. A second manager then asked if the three of them could step outside the store where, in full view of any passers-by who cared to see, both managers began trying to "fix" Ballah's hair on their own.
Ballah told CBC the managers justified their actions by saying her hairstyle wasn't a good fit for Zara's "look."
Zara employee with box braids humiliated after managers try to 'fix' her hair http://www.cbc.ca/1.3527977
"They took me outside of the store and they said, 'We're not trying to offend you, but we're going for a clean professional look... and the hairstyle you have now is not the look for Zara,'" she said.
Ballah, who describes herself as biracial, said she filed a complaint of discrimination with Zara's human resources division, the CBC reported.
"My hair type is also linked to my race, so to me, I felt like it was direct discrimination against my ethnicity in the sense of what comes along with it," she told CBC. "My hair type is out of my control and I try to control it to the best of my ability, which wasn't up to standard for Zara."
The neverending struggle of Black women's appearance in the workplace--straight hair is always cool...the moment... http://fb.me/2MOcjXIs0
Ballah's encounter is far from the first time women of color have cited discrimination in the workplace as a result of their hairstyles. As Mic reported recently, a casual Google images search for "professional hairstyles" turns up predominantly white female results. Search for "unprofessional hairstyles", however, and the women displayed are mostly dark-skinned.
In a statement, Zara refused to tolerate discrimination in any form, saying it has no formal policy regarding employee hairstyles, aside from the fact that they must always look "professional."