Popular Toronto restaurant, Jack Astor’s Bar & Grill, is receiving major side-eye after discriminating against a natural-haired waitress.
Akua Agyemfra shared her story with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) News after being sent home because she had her natural hair in a bun. Usually, Agyemfra would wear extensions in her hair, but the day she decided to report to work naturally, she was met with opposition from one of her managers. According the the manager, to be in compliance, female staff members must wear their hair down. The manager then forced Agyemfra to take her hair out and she proved that her hair could not lay down straight on it’s own, but the manager still insisted she take her leave.
Kathryn Long, a spokeswoman for the restaurant, told Buzzfeed that she could not confirm any of the details in Agyemfra’s story but Long did confirm that she quit due to the dress code presented; however, Long did not provide a citation of the dress code because said it is protected due to “competitive reasons.” But, she did say the company allows their staffers to hair down or in a stylish up-do, but the description of a “stylish up-do” was not provided.
Due to Agyemfra’s story spreading in the Canadian headlines, Jack Astor’s Bar & Grill opened a “confidential channel through which any employee can share their views on our policies – without fear of consequences – with senior management,” according to Long. But some commentators online are not looking past the humiliation this young waitress faced:
— ArtistInTheCity (@ArtistInTheCity) March 16, 2016
Some supporters have even threatened to boycott the establishment, but no formal plans have surfaced at this time. In terms on Agyemfra, she has no intentions on reviving her employment at the restaurant and wrote to CBC’s Makda Ghebreslassie make this follow-up statement:
I know most black women at restaurants are forced to wear wigs or weaves or extensions, or are forced to straighten their hair everyday.
Don’t get me wrong, I think extensions look great. I’ve been wearing them ever since I was a little girl. I love when I get my braids. It’s the protective style I choose and works for me. But why am I scrutinized when I decide to to take them out? That’s not fair. I’m not going to compromise my roots and edges because my employer wants me to. My scalp has a right to breathe just as much as the woman standing beside me.
I just want equality. If a women, white or black, is more comfortable with their hair up, I don’t understand why it’s such an issue at a restaurant setting.
CBC also went around and asked other Black Torontonians about wearing their hair a specific way for work:
We spoke with some Black Torontonians about having to wear their hair a certain way for work. http://www.cbc.ca/1.3484037
Posted by CBC Toronto on Friday, March 11, 2016