A Banana Republic manager threatened to cut the hours of one of his black employees for wearing box braids to work, calling the style “urban unkempt.”
In a Facebook post, Destiny Tompkins complained that her manager at the Westchester, NY branch pulled her aside to admonish her for her new protective style after the District Manager complained about it. Tompkins had been working at the store for a month.
“I came in and he questioned me about the dress code and immediately, I thought there was something wrong with my outfit but he sat me down and questioned my hair instead,” she wrote. “He told me that my braids were not Banana Republic appropriate and that they were too “urban” and “unkempt” for their image. He said that if I didn’t take them out then he couldn’t schedule me for shifts until I did.”
Though the college sophomore tried to explain that she needed the box braids to protect her hair, and even tried to have her mother intervene, her manager was not having it. Tompkins told the New York Daily News that she felt so “uncomfortable” that she walked out before her shift was over.
“I have never been so humiliated and degraded in my life by a white person.”
“Box braids are not a matter of unprofessionalism, they are protective styles black women have used for their hair and to be discriminated against because of it is truly disgusting and unacceptable,” she wrote. “There’s no reason why a white person should feel allowed to tell me that I can’t wear my hair the way that I want bc it’s too black for their store image. #boycottbanana Banana Republic.”
A spokesperson from Banana Republic stated that “as a company, we have zero tolerance for discrimination. We take this matter very seriously and we are actively conducting an investigation. We are committed to upholding an inclusive environment where our customers and our employees feel respected.“