Job Seeker says Natural Hair Cost Her the Job

Walk-Ons

Chelsey Baptiste said her natural, curly hair became a point of contention during her interview.

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - A popular sports bar is under fire for its employee appearance policy. Apparently the standard is for female servers to have similar hair texture.

WGNO News Reporter Darian Trotter talked to management and one woman who said her hair cost her the job.

During football season, Walk-Ons Bistreaux and Bar is the place to be. So it’s no wonder why servers want to work here and cash in on energy and excitement; people like Chelsey Baptiste.

“I’ve never felt like this before ever, it made me feel like I wasn’t good enough,” Baptiste said.

She says she made it through the first interview, and was called back by a manager for a uniform fitting, and second interview. That’s when she got a once-over, from head to toe.

Her naturally curly hair became a point of contention.

“She says well you know, we go for, with the hair we go for more of a date night style.”

Dazed and confused Baptiste says she was sent away with a promise of another call back.

But it was a call back that would never happen.

“I felt discriminated against and I never knew how that felt until that day.”

She was later informed by a family member who already works at the hot spot, that the job was hers if she straightened her hair.

“This is my ethnicity this is how I was born, with hair that grows out, not down and it’s curly.”

We checked with management at Walk-Ons.

They declined an on-camera interview, but in a phone conversation said there’s a “company standard” and that “it’s all about the girls” who also serve as “models who promote the business.”

“But what does that mean; I know models who have big Afros. So why does it mean that a model has to have long straight hair.”

“It’s like put a group of girls in one box and telling other girls that you’re not good enough.”

Walk-Ons released a statement saying, “We are proud of the diversity of our staff at our flagship New Orleans location, and believe this diversity is why we were awarded the Best Sports Bar in North America from ESPN in 2012. Any allegations of discrimination is offensive and is counter intuitive to our core values as a brand,” said Scott Taylor, President and COO Walk-Ons Enterprises.

Meantime, Baptiste plans to file a formal complaint with the New Orleans Human Relations Commission.

23 comments

  • Brad

    How dumb is this?.. You are trying to make company policy into discrimination. Would you hire a person to fill a job that requires a masters degree without a degree? Jobs have requirements… I’m going to apply at a job that requires me to have something I don’t want to give, or have, and file a discrimination story against them. I’m Going to apply to play for the New Orleans saints quarter back position. When they cut me, I’m going to file a complaint against them Saints. They said I don’t meet thier requirements to play. That’s discrimination against me.

    • Eric Nykanen

      Agreed. The reporter has demonstrated irresponsible reporting detrimental to this fine establishment, which employs more of the complainants ethnicity than of the population! The reporter created a story that didn’t exist, and her behavior verifies they made a good decision rather than a bad one…..

  • Myra

    I have dined at walkons many times. Their staff is amazing. The girls are of all ethnicity. Walkons may hold a standard of personality, because they like for their guests to enjoy their experiences. This allocation is ludicrous. The girls have all lengths of hair!!! I believe walkons succeeded in being named number one sports bar because of the personalities, food, environment, and lifestyle. This company is superb and I think the personality of the staff creates the environment that they want!

  • Alisha

    This is ridiculous. I am African American. As a woman of color, I frequent walkons often. There are many beautiful African American girls that work at all locations. Maybe this girl doesn’t have people skills. That’s not a problem of color or hair, it’s a problem of personality. I’m taken a back, that one of the original news channels would portray in any yellow journalism. Maybe you should look into your reporter before this kind of story!

  • Deb

    Really? Has this become the interest of reporters these days? I’m pretty sure New Orleans has more news to report about then the type of hair someone has.

  • Chensia

    Of all the news channels in New Oreans, WGNO found a story of someone's hair texture to comment on? I can't wait to read the comments of the Circus..

  • ahcontraire

    Typical Black,, SUE for DISCRIMINATION.

    if this goes thru then couldn't any black person with curly hair sue for discrimination in regards to MEDIA and ADVERTISING? What about Hollywood and the selection of actors and actresses? Or what about modeling and fashion?

    Or maybe it really had to do with the piercing in her nose?

    Just so you know, lots of people apply at places like Walk On and it can't hire everyone.

  • Allan

    This is really frustrating because I go into walk ons all the time and see nothing but diversity across the board, not an ounce of discrimination. For someone to sink to this level to bring it to a news station and for WGNO to entertain this story is mind blowing and shallow. Just like the military had standards and can be selective on who they want in, a company can hold and obtain standards to meet the requirements of what their business represents! If you want something bad enough, you make the adjustments necessary, adapt, and overcome, not cry about it to a news station! You can’t always play victim and take the easy way out! I will always continue to eat and support walk ons, their diversity, and their great environment! PS: Their hangover burger and sweet potato waffle fries are amazing!

  • Indie

    Y’all are truly missing the point. I see everyone saying that they see many diverse women at walk ons but do you see women with hair like hers. “Oh straighten your hair”. “Oh get a weave”. Most of the black girls at walk ons do have weaves to hide the hair like this girl has. Y’all are nitpicking the story and it’s annoying.

  • NotSinkingIn

    It's not about whether or not the bar is diverse. It's about how she is being told that her hair is not good enough (attractive enough) to work at a sports bar, when it's a hair texture specific to black people. She is being told her hair is too "black" for the job. I'm convinced those insisting this bar is "diverse" have never had wait for an extra category to open up so they can exist as they are. Minorities are always expected to assimilate and accommodate prejudice and the effects thereof; it's never the responsibility of the one with power to correct the standard.

    • luke

      As a white guy, I thought she had beautiful hair and i'm unsure why any establishment would ask her to straighten it or otherwise hide it. That is discrimination.

      As an example, if I was married to a black woman, but called her brother a N@###R i'd still be a racist. So just because this company hires black women, that they control via nullifying their black natural look doesn't mean they are not being discriminating in this case.

      Its not about the hairy its about making her look more white and less black. Just as it seems they do with all their black workers.

  • BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    “She was later informed by a family member who already works at the hot spot, that the job was hers if she straightened her hair.”

    So really. Was this unnamed “family member” authorized by management to tell her this or is is simply a case of “family member” shooting her mouth off when she shouldn’t have.

    Otherwise, how low will some people go to play the race card.

  • Cynthia

    If this is true, it’s disgusting. I can see discriminating over something like “visible tattoos,” but something as simple as hair texture, that’s B.S. Bring up all the African American women that work their, and I guarantee they all wear weave or “silky textures.”

  • gello

    My hair is naturally long, thick, wavy and blond/light brown. In the accounting field, employers prefer a more closely-cropped and professional hair cut. In college, i wore a ponytail and dressed VERY casually. When i was interviewing for a job, i paid the barber to make my hair look nice and neat, not its "natural" long and thick and wavy state. I wanted the people interviewing me to see that i had put forth a good bit of effort to look professional and very well-groomed, so they would understand that i took pride in my appearance.

    "Date Night" hair would seem to indicate that hair, regardless of type, should be styled neatly in such a way as to let anyone seeing it know that it has been paid a great deal of attention and made to look more than "natural" to be "neat". Neatness in appearance is even more important when you are handling food and drinks, regardless of your race.

    • ZZZZZZ

      The sad thing is, prospective employers might have seen this 'news' article, too. Businesses are usually reluctant to hire an employee who expects company policies to be set aside for them. There are plenty of other applicants without that kind of baggage to hire.

    • jen

      how is her hair NOT neat? it looks perfectly fine. with those curls theres really no other way to wear it besides straighten it and thats not what she wanted to do! she took pride in her curls. this is a very popular style on black women and i think it looks beautiful, not straggly or wild at all. and lets just be honest please, this isnt about "looking professional" or "neatness of hair while handling peoples food" it's about sexual APPEARANCE, for MEN. it's about them wanting every girl to look the SAME, bc they have one closed minded perception of what pretty is supposed to look like, and her hair doesnt meet their criteria….. (just for the record, this is coming from a white girl who also used to work there)

  • ZZZZZZ

    Why is this news?
    Food establishments often have their waitstaff smooth or restrain their hair. It's pretty common…Especially for longer hair, whether it is straight or curly. In food prep areas some restaurants actually require hairnets, even for men. It keeps stray hair from getting into the patrons' food or drink. There are plenty of people of other ethnic backgrounds with the same type of curls. They would be required to do the same thing to work there. She needs to grow up and get a job somewhere else.

    • jen

      you are completely missing the point. this specific job is about looking hot for male customers to increase sales.. like twin peaks, and hooters. what don't you understand about that? they didn't hire her bc she didn't meet their criteria of pretty!! not bc she didn't look professional enough.. PLEASE

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