Woman says natural hair cost her a job

Posted at 9:25 PM, Aug 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-18 21:25:14-04

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.