Hotel Worker Reprimanded Over Hair

Thursday, May 18th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) — A black Colonial Williamsburg hotel cashier who dyed her hair blonde says her new color has landed her in trouble with her bosses, who think it looks unnatural.

``I'm not doing anything wrong. I just want my hair blonde,'' said Janel Rankins, who works at the Williamsburg Inn. ``I saw white people with blonde hair, and I liked it. I thought it would look cute on me.''

Rankins, 21, said Tuesday that she dyed her hair May 11, and her supervisors complained the next day that it was distracting to co-workers and customers.

The written reprimand described her hair as ``gold-orange'' and said she could face disciplinary action up to recommended termination if she didn't switch to a more natural color.

Colonial Williamsburg's appearance policy says dyed hair must be natural-looking and that ``any hair colors, patches, stripes or coatings such as blue, green, orange, yellow, gold, bright red or similar unnatural colors are not permitted.''

``There is no doubt in our minds that the application of this policy is racist, no matter how much they want to sugarcoat it,'' said Jorge Rivera, the regional director of Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union Local 25.

Colonial Williamsburg spokesman Jim Bradley said he could not comment on Rankins' complaint because it is a personnel issue. But he said the appearance policy is ``consistent with industrywide standards'' and is applied equally to all employees.