In 2013, Farryn Johnson was fired from her waitress job at a Baltimore Hooters because the restaurant "prohibits African-American Hooters Girls from wearing blond highlights in their hair," according to a lawsuit.
The suit also alleged that "non-African-American" women were allowed to wear blond and red streaks in their hair as well as curly hairstyles.
"The manager at the time literally said, 'You can't have blond because black people don't have blond hair,'" Johnson told WBAL-TV. "I was shocked. I couldn't believe it."
An arbitrator recently decided that racial discrimination contributed to Johnson's termination and awarded her more than $250,000 for lost wages and legal fees, NBC News reports.
The hair policy "was implemented in a discriminatory manner adversely affecting African-American women," wrote Arbitrator Edmund D. Cooke Jr., also noting the violation of state and federal laws.
"I hope that Hooters sees this as an opportunity to make improvements in the way they train their managers and the way they deal with their employees,” said Andrew Levy, Johnson’s attorney.
In a lengthy statement posted on the Hooters website, the restaurant criticized the ruling and accused the arbitrator of being biased.
"Ms. Johnson’s claims of discrimination are simply without merit and Hooters received an adverse and flawed decision from the Arbitrator presiding over the case," read the statement. "From the beginning of his affiliation with this matter, the Arbitrator demonstrated an unfortunate bias and a complete disinterest in hearing Hooters’ version of the facts."
Hooters also claimed that Johnson did not receive $250,000 in back pay, but rather only $11,886.40, with the remainder going to her attorneys' fees. According to NBC News, Johnson's attorney rejected that claim, insisting that the former waitress was fully compensated for all her lost wages and compensatory damages.
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(Photo: WJZ Baltimore News 13 via CBS)
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