The Toronto Spanish retailer Zara, received heat from an employee Friday, after she was told by managers that her braided hairstyle didn’t comply with the company’s brand.
Cree Ballah, 20, said she showed for work at Zara’s Scarborough Town Centre location in Scarborough, Canada on March 23 with her hair in box braids gathered in the back, according to CBC News.
Two managers asked the Zara employee to take down the set of braids because it was “not the look for Zara,” or the look that the retail chain wanted employees to display.
“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 with Zara and the hairstyle you have now is not the look for Zara,’ ” Ballah said.
Ballah said she she left the mall hurt and upset after she was taken to an area of the mall where other Zara employees could see the managers attempting to do what they called fixing the young employee’s hair.
“It was very humiliating… it was unprofessional,” she told CBC News.
As the natural hair trend grows, there are more cases of discrimination in the work place. The Atlanta Black Star shared a similar case of waitress who was allegedly fired from her job in March because of her natural hairstyle .
The 20-year-old, Akua Agyemfra, told Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News that she was sent home from the Toronto-area restaurant Jack Astor’s because her natural hair was put into a bun. She was told that she was terminated because her hairstyle wasn’t “down or straight.”
Ballah filed an official complaint with the company’s human resources department, claiming discrimination.
“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,” said Ballah, who describes herself as bi-racial.
In a written statement, the retailer said it “engaged directly the employee on this matter and respect the privacy of those discussions,” and that Zara has no formal policy regarding employees’ hairstyles but prefers professionalism.