Friday, March 12, 2010

Braided Hairstyle at Issue in protests over dress code

Braided Hair Style At Issue in Protests Over Dress Codes

FOR the first two weeks that she wore her hair in tight braids swept into a pageboy silhouette, Cheryl Tatum, a restaurant cashier at a Hyatt hotel in suburban Washington, received compliments. Then a supervisor told her to pull the braids into a bun to comply with Hyatt's dress code.

She complied, but three weeks later the personnel director at the hotel -the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, near the National Airport - told her to unbraid her hair, saying that Hyatt policy barred ''extreme and unusual hair styles.'' Ms. Tatum, who is black, refused. She lost her job and is now pursuing a discrimination claim before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Sydney M. Boone, a black telephone operator at the Grand Hyatt Washington in the downtown section of the capital, wore a wig over her braids when told that her hair style violated company policy. She, too, has filed a discrimination complaint with the commission.

While no one knows how many similar instances have occurred, lawyers, hair stylists and others across the nation said in interviews that black women were increasingly being forced to choose between a job and African-influenced braided hair styles. Women and stylists contend that braids offer practical and healthful advantages, but some employers say that such styles do not fit their corporate images.

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