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Black Waitress Sent Home Because Her Natural Hair Would Not ‘Fall Straight’ and Hang Down

Avatar • Mar 14, 2016

Akua Agyemfra was working at the Jack Astor’s restaurant in Toronto, Canada when a manager dismissed her for not wearing her hair down, according to company policy. Agyemfra normally wears extensions to comply with company policy, but on this day her hair was in a bun, which she pulled out to demonstrate that natural hair does not hang down. She was sent away anyway.

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…

Unless your hair is permed, rarely does a black women’s hair stay down when it’s straightened. It may stay laid for a few hours but that style is only temporary.

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.”

Watch Agyemfra discuss the situation below.

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Guest
Guest
4 years ago

I understand her frustration, but she’s gonna have to fight this on company policy. Good luck to her.

kalexa1
kalexa1
4 years ago
Reply to  Guest

Agreed. I think a good start point might be asking the company to “define hang down”. Also wondering what restaurant considers ‘hanging down’ hair to be more hygienic than hair in a bun. Unless they think women look prettier / more appealing that way… which opens a whole additional can of worms. Be interesting to hear follow up on this, though I suspect she’ll unfortunately just go quietly.

Taty Davis
Taty Davis
4 years ago

When I worked as a waitress a year ago, I was told to keep my hair pulled back or up. This was for hygienic reasons. Most people don’t want hairs in their food. Most restaurants will not even let you keep your hair down even when pulled back. It’s just less hygienic, especially when you wear gels that might flake. As we curlies tend to do. It’s also to keep them from comping meals. Especially for people who purposely make a scene just to get a free meal. Believe me I’ve seen those types of people. It’s a lot easier… Read more »

V.M
V.M
4 years ago
Reply to  Taty Davis

It’s not like Hooter’s. I don’t really know American restaurants so I don’t know what to compare it to, but it’s a bar and grill type restaurant. Laid back kind of vibe.

Taty Davis
Taty Davis
4 years ago
Reply to  V.M

Thanks for explaining. But the company should lighten up on their policy. As long as the person who’s waiting on me is clean and neat and looks like they’re taking baths, I don’t care how they wear their hair.

JLTR
JLTR
4 years ago

“It’s just hair!!!11!!” “They don’t discriminate for things like that, you’re exaggerating.” .…… It’s funny cause this is racist and sexist. I’m sure the owners of this establishment are going for a certain, demure ‘look’ for their female servers, but loose, long hair + food service = no. It’s just one more thing for women to worry about when they’re working, or getting ready to work. Buning is easy, hygienic, and professional; having make sure your hair is perfect every morning, rushing around taking orders and navigating a hot kitchen, then making sure no fly-aways get in anyones’ food is.. not… Read more »

Sabrina black
Sabrina black
4 years ago

This is madness.

Wrong Information
Wrong Information
4 years ago

I visit this location frequently. Some things the media fails to mention is that the staff are 50% African-Canadians that abide by the rules. Yes it sucks that they cant wear their natural hair but those are the rules. If you read the media piece it is mentioned that during the interview she was informed that she cant wear her hair up and she said that wont be a problem. by her 3rd training shift she was already wearing it up. by saying she “normally wears extensions” what are you accounting for? 2 whole shifts? its as simple as she… Read more »

Regi
Regi
4 years ago

A bigoted policy is still bigoted, even if it is written into their policy. They are not a country, a nation, and even if they were, it is still bigoted. It also discriminates as those who can not afford extensions or a relaxer every month would not be allowed to work at this restaurant. It excludes members of society because they have the wrong hair texture. Something that occurs naturally. It is no different from saying you can not work at X because you have the wrong eye color. So you should wear contacts to change your eye color?? And… Read more »

Reina Benoir
Reina Benoir
4 years ago

I see where you get the name.

Just because 50% of the staff is Black doesn’t mean that the rule isn’t wrong.

And I don’t give a damn what the rules are no one’s hair should keep them from being employed especially when dealing with something as arbitrary as hair.

That’s not even going into how stupid it is to have women walking about with long loose hair and food. Disgusting!

HD433
HD433
4 years ago

She isn’t the problem. Her hair isn’t the problem. The rules are the problem. The rules were written for people whose hair “falls straight and hangs down”, aka white people with straight hair. She is not a white person with straight hair, and not even white people don’t all have straight hair. So if a place of business is going to write any sort of rules, codes of conduct or dress codes, it should ask itself if those rules are too f*cking stupid to be successfully implemented. Just like you should have before ranting for an entire paragraph about “rules… Read more »

Lolalao
Lolalao
4 years ago

They should all wear buns actually. Remember when they did surgery and such in the medical field without washing their hands? Now they know it has to be done. It’s nasty ! Think about it. Do you want to find the staffs hair in your food?

BlueCornMoon
BlueCornMoon
4 years ago

Even ballerinas wear their hair in a bun . This situation is crazy because everyplac e I’ve been to that has waiters/waitresses wants everyone’s hair pulled up & some places even have people wearing those almost invisible hair nets. Those folks at her place just don’t like our hair

MalikaiDragonSlayer
MalikaiDragonSlayer
4 years ago
Reply to  BlueCornMoon

Exactly. Why on earth would a they want her hair to be down in a restaurant? That makes it easier for it to get in someone’s plate.

Cosita
Cosita
4 years ago

Exactly. As someone who has nearly chocked a few times on long straight stringy hair from restaurants this policy is suspect. I don’t want those waitresses anywhere near my food.

Reina Benoir
Reina Benoir
4 years ago

There’s no way that wanting to have hair hanging down has anything to do with hygiene. There’s nothing hygienic about the possibility of contaminating food with loose hairs that shed every day out of your head. This has to be for aesthetics which to me makes this particular rule illegitimate and racist (as they see to demand from some of us things our hair cannot do naturally)

Cosita
Cosita
4 years ago

Yeah they say a bun is unprofessional but if she had worn her hair “down” they probably would have complained. She should have picked that stuff out into the biggest Afro. As a customer I would rather hair be pulled back. I’m so glad I have never had an issue with jobs and me having natural hair.

Lolalao
Lolalao
4 years ago
Reply to  Cosita

I think their hair should be in a bun.

MalikaiDragonSlayer
MalikaiDragonSlayer
4 years ago

This is wild, a bun is the epitome of “professional” hairstyles what more do they want?

Nikita L.
Nikita L.
4 years ago

Sooooo, we’re all calling Jack Astor’s restaurant’s corporate offices in Toronto, Canada to call them out for being discriminatory & just plain stooooopid, right?

Mary
Mary
4 years ago

Get you a good lawyer honey and sue the restaurant dear…it may be against company policy but what the company did is against the law.….

TWA4now
TWA4now
4 years ago

We are…most..the only group of people this is happening to on a regular basis! Ok, this is NOT OK! Granted, we CAN’T do what we want at a company per say, but there was nothing wrong with her hair being pulled back neatly…add THAT the policy!

Jessi
Jessi
4 years ago

I’m one of the first to call companies out on their BS, but someone needs to explain this picture:comment image

If natural hair being down wasn’t allowed, then why are there two women with their natural hair down here?

Jessi
Jessi
4 years ago

I’m one of the first to call companies out on their BS, but someone needs to explain this picture:media-cdn.tripadvisor. com/ media/ photo‑s/07/ff/49/d1/ jack-astor-s-bar-and. jpg

If natural hair being down wasn’t allowed, then why are there two women with their natural hair down here?

Lolalao
Lolalao
4 years ago

I think working in the food industry ALL hair should be in a bun. I remember eating at a restaurant with my family and the waitress was taking food to another table, her hair was too low for my liking. I don’t want someone’s hair near my food. They carry the trays up high near their heads. I don’t think that’s really a good idea.

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