A chain restaurant in Toronto is being called for what one waitress says is a discriminatory policy. Akua Agyemfra tells CBC she was in her third day of training at a Jack Astor's Bar and Grill when the assistant manager Sabrina Chiodo approached her about her hair.
Agyemfra, who is black, had worn her natural hair in a bun that day. The manager "sits me down and says, 'I'm sorry to have to let you go home,'" Agyemfra recounts. In response, she says that she took her hair down to show Chiodo that her natural hair wouldn't lay flat. Agyemfra says her manager was understanding but told her that "a lot of the girls were talking about my hair and that it was in a bun and theirs isn't." She was required to go home for the day.
In a statement to the CBC, Chiodo confirmed that Agyemfra was sent home for wearing her hair up but stated that she was simply enforcing the chain's policy. Jack Astor's national marketing manager Kathryn Long clarified that the policy requires waitresses to wear their hair down or in a "stylish up-do." The company is currently reviewing its policies. "The times where I don't wear my extensions it should just be okay that I want to wear how god gave me my hair," Agyemfra says.
The Jack Astor's waitress isn't the first to take issue with a restaurant's image policies. In 2013, a black waitress at a Hooters in Baltimore took the breastaurant chain to court, claiming that while Caucasian employees were allowed to dye their hair, she was terminated because her blonde highlights "violated employee image standards." Montreal-based restaurant Madison's also faced accusations of racism in 2015, after sending home a staff member for wearing asymmetrical braids. Quebec's Human Rights Commission later launched an investigation into the incident. Earlier this week, a waitress in Des Moines claimed a she was stiffed by a judgy customer who didn't like her pink hair.
Watch the CBC interview below: