A Black University of Alabama at Birmingham student says she was threatened with the loss of her job before the school’s human resources office intervened, after she wore a scarf that was not to her employers liking.
Felicia Layton, a 21-year-old junior studying kinesiology claim her employers at one of the university’s day care centers sent her home on Thursday because she violated the workplace dress code policy by tying a headscarf around her ponytail, according to AL.com.
“APPARENTLY THIS IS VERY UNPROFESSIONAL AND I WILL BE FIRED IF SOMETHING [ISN’T] DONE TO IT (flat iron it) BY TOMORROW!,” Layton wrote in a now viral Facebook post. “I [won’t] say much because [I’m] not even the type to argue with no one about how things that are basically RACIST but being labeled as something else!”
Layton has worked at the daycare since 2017 and went on to say that she was tired from the daily requirements it takes to maintain her 4c hair texture which requires a lot of effort to upkeep.
“I HAVE THE MOST 4C hair i have ever seen and baby I can barely put it in a ponytail so if this isnt well groomed and professional enough to be at a DAYCARE idk what is! My students and their parents love me & If its a problem with management that my 4c hair to be flatiron or ‘well groomed,'” she continued. The post has over 1k shares and 600 comments.
In an interview with the school’s newspaper Layton said she was also frustrated over what is deemed as acceptable in the workplace when it comes to Black hairstyles versus those of other races.
“I feel like the rule is belittling and racist,” she said. “First of all, it’s not ok because the rule was made only for a specific group of people. You’re not going to tell a Caucasian person not to wear a headwrap to work.”
After word of the post went viral, Layton updated it to say that the university’s Human Resources office contacted her to resolve the issue. According to AL.com, the dress code violation was no longer in practice.
“We are aware of this post and are looking into it now to gather facts,” Paulette Dilworth, Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, wrote in a statement obtained by AL.com. “We take concerns like these seriously and will take appropriate action based on our findings. As an institution, UAB is committed to advancing diversity as a core value and to promoting an inclusive campus with respect and dignity for our faculty, staff and students.”
As we know Black women and men are often unfairly policed over wearing their hair the way it grows out of their head due to respectability politics which are birthed in the global obsession over European beauty standards.
A number of states including California and New York have introduced and passed anti-discrimination legislation pertaining to natural hairstyles. It may be time for Alabama to get on board as well.