Hooters motto is "delightfully tacky yet unrefined," but according to one waitress, "unjustly hypocritical yet racist" is more accurate. That probably wouldn't attract as much business though.
Farryn Johnson, 25, of Baltimore, Md., worked as a Hooters Girl at the Baltimore Inner Harbor restaurant for a year before she was fired in August for highlighting her hair. Or, in her opinion, for having blond highlights while being black.
Johnson added blond streaks to her in June and was told by management that she needed to change it. "They specifically said, 'Black women don't have blond in their hair, so you need to take it out,'" Johnson told CBS Baltimore. She was fired in August.
"I didn't see that it would be a big issue, just because there were a lot of other employees working at the restaurant of other races with color in their hair," Johnson explained (via ABC News).
She continued, "For instance, there were Asian girls with red hair and Caucasian girls with black hair and blond streaks, so I didn't think it would be an issue for the little piece of blond highlight in my hair."
While Hooters justified her firing using an "improper image" clause, Johnson has filed a racial discrimination complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights.
"I actually started noticing there was an issue when other African-American employees, they tried to come into work wearing their hair curly," Johnson told CNN, noting that other white employees were allowed to wear their hair curly. "They would get in trouble by management, who told them, ‘You can't come back to work unless you straighten your hair.'"
"The law is clear that employers can't have two separate unequal sets of rules—one for African-Americans employees and one for everybody else," attorney Jessica Weber told CBS Baltimore.
She explained, "Yet that's exactly what Hooters did here in firing Miss Johnson, an African-American employee solely because she's African-American. They targeted her because of her hair solely because of her race."
Rebecca Sinclair, chief human resources officer for Hooters of America, told the Baltimore Sun that "when you're representing an iconic brand, there are standards to follow," but "adamantly denies that it has different policies and standards for hair based on race."
"As a global brand, Hooters embraces our culturally diverse employee base and our standards are applied impartially," Sinclair said.
On Hooters official website, their Hooters Girl hair guidelines are as follows:
Shine, Color & Condition
Never come to work with wet hair! Even if your hair looks good when it dries naturally, we do not consider that styled and camera ready.
Style your hair the way you would when going out on a big date or when preparing for a photo shoot.
Use the best, not the cheapest, styling products. You will actually save money if you buy what you know works, rather than try every new product that claims to do what you want them to do.
Get your hair cut every 6 to 8 weeks, or as recommended by your stylist.
Wear the right hair color for your skin tone.
Not everyone should be a blond!
Skunk-like streaks are not permitted. A natural and styled look is the look you are going for.
Always be sure that highlights are complimentary to your original hair color. Drastically different hightlighted tones or colors in your hair is not attractive or permitted as part of the Hooters Girl Image.
Johnson's attorney concluded, "She wants to show Hooters what they did was wrong and get them to change this."