It's been half a century since Clairol introduced its now-iconic hair color campaign with the coy question, "Does she...or doesn't she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure." Today for many women and an increasing number of men, the use of hair color is as unremarkable a grooming practice as the application of lip balm. Of course she does if she wants to. Who cares?
Abercrombie & Fitch, it turns out -- at least if an employee's hair color of choice does not comport with the retail chain's "look policy." And, alleges a lawsuit pending in the Southern District of New York, the only acceptable hair colors of choice for African Americans at A&F are dark brown or black.
Former sales associate Dulazia Burchette claims that she was twice sent home to re-dye blonde highlights to a color she was "born with" before finally leaving A&F. According to the complaint, at least one other African American employee with nonconforming hair color was fired, another was allowed to work only in the stockroom until such time as she could dye her hair, and a third chose to wear a black wig. Caucasian employees' hair color and highlights were allegedly not subject to similar scrutiny.
While Judge Richard Berman last week dismissed several of Burchette's arguments, she was allowed to proceed with the primary claims regarding racial discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation.
And so the battle over African American women's hair -- from Renee Rogers' 1981 action demanding that American Airlines allow her to wear braids to the Cleary Gottlieb law firm's bad hair day a couple of summers ago, courtesy of Glamour magazine -- continues. And it's a good bet that neither Tina Turner nor Tyra will be doing a line for A&F any time soon.