Black Executive Says BP Fired Her For Wearing ‘Ethnic Clothing And Ethnic Hairstyles’

Source: Annie-Rose Strasser / ThinkProgress

A black woman says she was fired from British Petroleum (BP) for wearing a dashiki and for wearing her hair in braids.

Melphine Evans was a vice president and CFO for two BP ofshoots. Now, she is suing those companies and nine individuals, saying she was told that how she dressed was only appropriate “during ‘culture day,’ black history month or special diversity events/days,” and that it was making her colleagues “uncomfortable.”

The dashiki, a piece of traditional West African clothing, became a political and cultural symbol for African Americans during the 1960s, a marker of solidarity with the struggle for economic and racial equality. But that isn’t necessarily why Evans was wearing it; dashikis simply resemble long, patterned shirts.

Still, in her 24-page lawsuit filed with the Orange County Superior Court this week, Evans says that her supervisor told her, “‘You intimidate and make your colleagues uncomfortable by wearing ethnic clothing and ethnic hairstyles,” according to Courthouse News. Her so-called “ethnic hairstyles” were braids or twists, common ways for an African American woman to wear her hair.

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