A stylist at a high-end hair salon in Manhattan is suing her former employers for racial discrimination. Zandra Bennett filed legal paperwork against owners and employees of New York City's Orlando Pita Salon, alleging to have been harassed and called names like “blackie,” “ni--erette,” and “slave,” by salon receptionist, Alfred Malavo.
According to court documents, Bennett started as an assistant at the salon in April of 2010, and was promoted to stylist five months later. She asserts that despite having celebrity clientele like Naomi Campbell, part-owner , George Casson, said that “black hair doesn't pay the bills,” and repeatedly belittled black employees. Casson would also send black and Hispanic employees to Bennett because she “doesn't know how to do white hair,” and called her own hair “nappy.” Bennett was fired via text in January of 2011, after she was hospitalized for “job related stress.” She is accusing Casson, his partner, Orlando Pita, and Malavo of creating a discriminatory and hostile work environment.
Bennett's story runs close to that of other black women who have been the victim of hair-related racial discrimination incidents. A woman in Seattle was searched by TSA agents at an airport for having “poofy hair,” and a Texas hair stylist who was profiled at an Atlanta airport for wearing an afro.
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