This black Banana Republic employee says she was told her hair was too "urban" and "unkempt"
Banana Republic is facing accusations of "blatant racism" after one of the retailers employees was refused shifts until she removed her hair braids.
19-year-old Destiny Tompkins has worked at the Westchester Mall store in New York for about a month. Last week, she posted on Facebook about a "dress code" incident that took her completely by surprise.
In the post she discusses the incident that occurred while a Banana Republic district manager was in her store, and asked the store manager to summon Tompkins to his office.
"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," Tompkins wrote in her Facebook post, which has been shared more than 53,000 times.
"He told me that my braids were not Banana Republic appropriate and that they were too 'urban' and 'unkempt' for their image."
Tompkins felt "so uncomfortable and overwhelmed" following the incident that she didn't complete her shift and left.
Banana Republic released a statement in response to the the accusations on Friday saying it is investigating the incident: "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."
Following that internal investigation, the store manager in question has been terminated from his position at Banana Republic. A spokesperson for the retail company released the following statement:
"This week, one of our store managers questioned an African American employee's braided hair style. Our team began an immediate investigation and the manager involved was promptly removed from the store. Today we concluded the investigation and can confirm that the manager has been terminated from the company. Banana Republic has zero tolerance for discrimination. This situation was completely unacceptable, counter to our policies, and in no way reflects our company’s beliefs and values." — Sheikina Liverpool, Banana Republic Spokesperson.
Having discussed the incident with her family, Tompkins said on Friday that she planned to speak to a lawyer about and had no intention of continuing to work at Banana Republic. She's received a number of job offers and huge amounts of support since sharing her experience on social media.
"I've received a lot of support, and I'm glad I spoke out," she said. "I think it's important that these kinds of things get exposed."