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Claim accuses Maryland restaurant of discrimination

An African-American Maryland woman accused a Baltimore eatery of discriminatory practices after the restaurant allegedly fired her because of blond highlights put in her hair. The plaintiff submitted her claim to the Maryland Civil Rights Commission, asserting that her manager terminated her employment due to her "improper image." The Commission will have six months to investigate the claim, after which time the woman may choose to file a race discrimination lawsuit. It is unclear whether the woman is seeking damages, though her attorney said she wants the eatery to modify its appearance policy.

The plaintiff contends that two managers chastised her when she came to work with dyed hair, telling her that it did not look natural on a black woman. She says she showed up for work on several occasions, each time being sent home with a written warning to change her hair color. Finally, the restaurant fired her after she repeatedly failed to return her hair color to its natural state. The woman claims to be in possession of the Employee Counseling Reports her managers issued as warnings, but did not share them with reporters.

The plaintiff claims that only one other employee, also African-American, was instructed to change her hair color or style. She asserts that Asian-American and white waitresses who died or highlighted their hair in "unnatural" colors were never disciplined by the managers. As such, she believes the restaurant is exhibiting discriminatory behavior by enforcing "more restrictive beauty standards on African-American women that it does on women of other races."

Representatives with the restaurant declined to comment on its appearance standards or the details on the recently filed claim at last report.

Maryland businesses accused of discriminating against employees can face financially draining lawsuits and a damaged public image, making it important for such parties to be able to defend themselves in court.

Los Angeles Times, "Black 'Hooters Girl' fired over not 'natural' blond hair" Robin Abcarian, Oct. 24, 2013

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