Cree Ballah is an employee at Zara in Toronto, Canada. From the looks of her hair, you’d think she would fit right in with the fashion-forward company. But according to Bellah, her managers told her that her hair was unprofessional.
In an interview with the CBC, Cree says her managers even went as far as to take down her hair in the store and messed with it to make it look “professional”.“They took me outside of the store and they said, ‘We’re not trying to offend you, but we’re going for a clean professional look with Zara and the hairstyle you have now is not the look for Zara,’Ballah said.
“It was very humiliating… it was unprofessional,” she said.
Ballah said she left the store that day and also filed an official complain with human resources.
“My hair type is also linked to my race, so to me, I felt like it was direct discrimination against my ethnicity in the sense of what comes along with it,” said Ballah.
“My hair type is out of my control and I try to control it to the best of my ability, which wasn’t up to standard for Zara.”
A rep for Zara says the company does not discriminate and did follow up with Ballah. In a written statement, Zara said they “engaged directly the employee on this matter and respect the privacy of those discussions.”
Ballah confirmed meeting with the company officials, but was not satisfied with how the issue was handled.
“The way they handled it was extremely unprofessional. The words they used were very problematic. To suggest that they were going for a clean professional look, and I didn’t fall in that, to suggest that my hair wasn’t clean, or professional, just because I had braids in.”
“The guidelines are not fair. My hair was deemed a problem, but someone with blue hair was fine, and someone with pink hair and a shaved side head was fine, and somebody who has two pigtails in straight hair is fine.”