Jack Astor's waitress claims she was sent home because hair was in a bun

A 20-year-old woman says she was sent home during her shift at a Jack Astor's Bar and Grill because her hair was in a bun.

'Your hair should be up in a restaurant. It's more classy and professional,' Akua Agyemfra says

A 20-year-old woman says she was sent home during her shift at a Jack Astor's Bar and Grill because her hair was in a bun. 0:46

A 20-year-old woman says she was sent home during her shift at a Jack Astor's Bar and Grill because her hair was in a bun.

In an exclusive interview with CBC News, Akua Agyemfra said she was wearing her hair in a bun during her job interview when assistant manager Sabrina Chiodo asked, "'Do you mind if your hair is down?' And I said, 'No.'"

Agyemfra said she was over the moon when she got hired "on the spot." But her excitement didn't last long.

She came forward following CBC's Marketplace investigation into skimpy uniforms that some restaurants require their female staff to wear.

Agyemfra said on her third day of training at the restaurant's location near Highway 27 and Dixon Road, Chiodo "sits me down and says, 'I'm sorry to have to let you go home.'"

Agyemfra said she took her hair out of the bun so Chiodo "could see it doesn't go down. She understood. She realized I couldn't wear my hair like that during a shift, that it looked ridiculous.
Akua Agyemfra showed CBC News how her hair would look if it was not in a bun. (CBC)

"She was really nice about it," Agyemfra said. "She said a lot of the girls were talking about my hair and that it was in a bun and theirs isn't. But it kinda sucked."

Agyemfra said "a lot of Caucasian people don't really understand" that her hair doesn't go down.

"But it still doesn't take away from the fact that she sent me home."

Speaking to CBC Wednesday, Chiodo did not deny that Agyemfa was sent home because her hair was in a bun. She added that the chain's policy dictates that waitresses wear their hair down.

But Kathryn Long, the national marketing manager for Jack Astor's, told CBC waitresses can wear their hair down or in a "stylish up-do."

Long also said Jack Astor's is reviewing its uniform policy.

Agyemfra said her friends can't believe she was sent home because her hair was in a bun and that her mother suggested she not return to the Jack Astor's restaurant where the incident happened.

"You should have your hair however you want, that's my only problem (with what happened)," she said. "I feel your hair should be up in a restaurant. It's more classy and more professional."

A spokeswoman with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) told CBC Wednesday that when "setting out dress codes to meet business needs, employers should not rely on stereotypes or sexist ideas of how men or women should look."

​On Tuesday, the OHRC called for an end to clothing requirements that discriminate against female and transgender workers.

With files by Makda Ghebreslassie

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