Jess Goodwin
March 21, 2016 12:50 pm
CBC

When it comes to workplace dress codes, it makes sense if an employee is sent home for wearing an inappropriate uniform, or not styling their hair back to meet health code requirements. Toronto woman Akua Agyemfra, however, was sent home during her a training shift at Jack Astor’s Steak and Grill for — *gasp* — wearing her hair in a bun.

NBC / Reddit

She told CBC News that she got about three days into her training period at the restaurant before the assistant manager, Sabrina Chiodo, took her aside and asked her to wear her hair down. Agyemfra took her hair out of its bun to show Chiodo how “ridiculous” it would look if she didn’t keep it tied up. Agyemfra took to Facebook a little over a week ago to explain why she put her hair in a bun.

“Management at Jack Astor’s did NOT specify that I had to wear my hair down every single shift. If they did, I would have NOT taken the job because I know my hair cannot be straight everyday. I had extensions during my interview and my two training shifts. After I took out my braids, my Afro didn’t not comply to the ‘straight hair’ rule. To maintain it and look presentable, I had to put it in a bun.”

While Chiodo was sympathetic she still stuck by the chain’s uniform code — which, interestingly, a Jack Astor’s spokesperson later said allowed “stylish up-dos” — and sent Agyemfra home.

A dress code stipulation like this is particularly odd for a restaurant that bills itself as a “casual, family-oriented bar.” As far as its statement goes, it’s possible the chain is simply backtracking now that its found itself in the media spotlight, but it’s also possible the “hair down” rule is one the manager of this particular location has been insisting on and didn’t expect to get caught in the lie.

This isn’t the first time black hair has been policed and considered to go “against the rules.” Last September, an NC news anchor was told her natural hair was “too distracting.” In 2007, Glamour infamously advised black women to use leave-in conditioner to tame their curls if they wanted to be seen as professional.

Jack Astor’s is reportedly reviewing its uniform policy, which with any luck means employees won’t have to face hassles like this in the future.

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