Banana Republic manager fired after telling employee to remove 'unkempt' braids

Monday, October 9, 2017
White Plains Banana Republic manager fired over employee braid incident
Nineteen-year-old Destiny Thompkins took her case to social media after the incident.

WHITE PLAINS, New York -- A Banana Republic manager who told an African-American employee that her hair braids violated dress code has been fired, the company said Sunday.

Nineteen-year-old Destiny Thompkins took her case to social media after the incident, which happened at a White Plains store where she had worked for about a month.

She was called into a meeting with her manager on Wednesday that caught her completely off guard.

"He said, 'The district manager came in and she pointed out your hair." I said, 'What is wrong with my hair?'" Thompkins said. "'It is a little too urban and unkempt for our look and image. We were wondering if you could take them out.'"

Stay on top of breaking news stories with the ABC11 News App

Thompkins, who works to pay her way through school, said she could not believe it was her hairstyle coming under attack by her 30-something white male manager. She said many black women do this to protect their hair from colder weather.

"I said, 'Okay, I was looking for a new job anyway. He said, 'Oh, you can quit today if you want,'" Thompkins said.

The Harlem native and aspiring filmmaker vented her anger on Facebook. She said she wants this manager to apologize, to be disciplined, and most importantly, to truly understand why she was offended by his comments about the braids she had just put in about a week ago.

"You are telling me I'm too black to work here and you have a problem with the way I present myself as a black woman," Thompkins said.

Banana Republic initially released a statement Friday saying an investigation was underway, and on Sunday, spokesperson Sheikina Liverpool emailed ABC11's sister station WABC, to say the manager had been terminated.

"This week, one of our store managers questioned an African American employee's braided hairstyle," Liverpool wrote. "Our team began an immediate investigation and the manager involved was promptly removed from the store. Today we concluded the investigation and can confirm that the manager has been terminated from the company. Banana Republic has zero tolerance for discrimination. This situation was completely unacceptable, counter to our policies, and in no way reflects our company's beliefs and values."

In the meantime, Thompkins said she will soon quit the job and that she and her family are considering legal action. They believe this is discrimination.

"I felt so overwhelmed and confused and just, I just felt so powerless within that moment," Thompkins said.