A woman is taking Banana Republic to court after she says a store manager deemed her braids “too urban.” Destiny Tompkins is filing a racial discrimination lawsuit against the Gap Inc.-owned chain for at least $1 million, according to TMZ. The corporate office, store and regional managers are listed as defendants in the suit.
Tompkins, who was hired as a sales representative in a White Plains, New York store, started wearing braids soon after she began working. According to documents obtained by TMZ Monday, Nov. 13, the manager — a white man who Tompkins identified as Michael on Facebook in October — told her that her hair was “too urban” and “unkempt” and didn’t fit BR’s image.
The 19-year-old took the descriptions as Michael meaning the braids were “too Black” and she says after she refused to change her hair, she was removed from the work schedule. And although she wasn’t formally given the pink slip, she was also never assigned any shifts.
On Wednesday, Oct. 4, Tompkins detailed her situation on Facebook, saying that Michael told her to use shea butter on her hair rather than keep her braids installed.
Black People, Black Hair And Discrimination
“I have never been so humiliated and degraded in my life by a white person,” she wrote. “In that moment, I felt so uncomfortable and overwhelmed that I didn’t even finish my work shift and ended up leaving.… Box braids are not a matter of unprofessionalism, they are protective styles Black women have used for their hair and to be discriminated against because of it is truly disgusting and unacceptable. Make this public [because] they need to be exposed for their blatant racism and discrimination. There’s no reason why a white person should feel allowed to tell me that I can’t wear my hair the way that I want [because] it’s too Black for their store image.”
so today I went into work at Banana Republic at the Westchester Mall and after the district manager (a white woman)…
Two days later, on Oct. 6, Banana Republic issued a statement saying they have “zero tolerance for discrimination.”
“We take this matter very seriously and we are actively conducting an investigation,” said spokesperson Sheikina Liverpool. The company concluded the investigation and fired the manager.
Yet Tompkins isn’t the only person that has faced discrimination because of her hair.
In 2013, meteorologist Rhonda A. Lee was fired from her job in Shreveport, La., after defending her natural hair on Facebook. The next year, she landed a job with WeatherNation before her current meteorologist job at Seattle’s NBC affiliate.
Unfortunately, children can face criticism too.
A teacher sent a note home with a 3-year-old girl in 2016 claiming her hair “stinks of coconut oil. And while the child’s mother, Tionna Norris, said she and the school’s administration have an understanding not to send home such notes, she believes the teacher had ill-will against her child.