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Employee Sent Home From Work Without Pay For Her Blonde Hair Not Being ‘Natural’

Photo: Peoplesimages.com / CanvaPro
black businesswoman with short-cropped blonde hair smiling at the camera

People get sent home from work all the time, for a number of reasons, from illness to behavioral situations to family emergencies. However, one TikTok woman shared the unique (and seemingly inappropriate) reason she got sent home without pay by her leadership team.

The Black woman was sent home from work with no pay after being told her platinum blonde hair was ‘unnatural’.

While it's common for workplace grooming policies to prohibit unnaturally dyed hair, most would argue that blonde is a naturally occurring hair color. This is what caused TikTok creator @mielturner to understand the discrimanatory undertones of her company's policy.

“They told me that blonde is not a natural hair color and it goes against their grooming policy,” @mielturner shared in a recent video. “I know they meant ‘unnatural” for Black people…we see Caucasian people with blonde hair all the time.” 

   

   

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Being in a professional setting, she understands the need for said “grooming policy.” However, it’s impossible to ignore the double standard that seems to influence this woman’s removal from work. 

After arriving at her new job and walking through the front door, she said she was immediately met with hostility, and her leadership team essentially told her to “do a 180” and go home.

“All because of my hair color,” she said while showing her blonde hair to the camera. “They didn’t say it wasn’t ‘my’ natural hair color, they said ‘it’ wasn’t a natural hair color. That’s why it went against the grooming policy.” 

Despite approval from the company’s founder, one ‘HR employee’ continues to target the woman — even calling her emergency contact. 

The woman admitted that the company’s co-founder had already given her the go-ahead on the hairstyle, saying that the photo originally sent to them before her first day “looked fine.” Despite that, she was sent home without pay when she arrived at work — but not before the HR representative told her that she couldn’t return until her hair was “black or brown.” 

Although it’s not incredibly common in the United States, blonde hair in black communities is not an impossible characteristic — and obviously not the “unnatural” standard this company tries to argue. 

   

   

Although her hair is dyed blonde, the woman argues that even their co-founder didn’t see an issue with it, telling her to go “just a little bit darker,” which she did. Despite all of that, the HR representative continued to target her. Later, she even decided to call her mother — the woman’s emergency contact — to escalate the “hair color situation.” 

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The woman feels her company ‘violated’ some kind of worker’s protection right — and viewers point to a legacy of race-based hair discrimination. 

With a history of race-based discrimination towards Black women — specifically targeting hairstyles — in the workplace, it’s no surprise this woman’s removal from work is sparking discussion. As the Harvard Business Review states, “even in places where there are protections against race-based hair discrimination, Black women bear the brunt of the burden when it comes to the hair bias.”

This type of hair discrimination is intertwined into many aspects of corporate, “professional” life, from hiring and firing practices to company policies to leadership teams. As the Stanford Social Innovation Review wrote, “the story [of bias] unfolds in many ways: in white and Western standards of dress and hairstyle, in speech, accent, word choice, and communication." 

“You know what the kicker is,” the woman acknowledge in her video, “the company is Black-owned.”

Her acknowledgment of the company’s roots is only evidence that these inherent “corporate biases” can perpetuate a variety of demographics, communities, and companies. Despite the consequences to many Black communities, many leaders unknowingly uphold these corrupt standards — oftentimes, because it’s what they’ve been taught is “appropriate” for work.  

RELATED: Woman Told She Has To Change Her Appearance For Job Interview In Order To Be Hired

Many commenters suggesed this woman investigate the ‘The Crown Act’ — a protective law that helps fight race-based discrimination in the workplace. 

Luckily, there are a few different organizations that have pledged their own advocacy against these discriminatory practices, one of those being the CROWN Coalition. Their CROWN Act — which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair — helps to prohibit race-based discrimination through state-enacted regulations.

Comments on this woman's video suggested she investigate whether this law is enacted in her state — or at least reach out to their team for support. 

Amidst supportive and helpful comments, several couldn't help but ask “what the fuss is about,” not understanding why she can’t "just change her hair." But, their small comments overlook a much larger discussion. 

   

   

Their attempts to diminish this woman’s feelings fall flat in the face of startling statistics: over 80% of Black women report feeling pressure to change their hair to appear “more presentable” at work. Alongside that toxic environment, employers are also more than 1.5 times more likely to send home Black women because of their hair. 

So, while this woman may end up simply changing jobs, or even dying her hair to ensure she has a place to work in the coming months, her story remains as evidence of a much larger problem. POC communities, especially Black women, should not have to feel the burden of “white supremacist corporate values” — and deserve individuality and support in any workplace they enter.

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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a news and entertainment writer at YourTango focusing on pop culture and human interest stories.