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WASHINGTON%uFFFDGrace Salvant, a 19-year-old public relations student at Howard University, needed a job. Trying to help her mother pay her college tuition, Salvant went to reapply for her old server’s job at a Ruby Tuesday restaurant in the heart of Wash

I was going to work weekends, start saving my money and then sometimes work full-time. That was my alternate plan.” But Salvant was shocked by what she was told upon reapplying for her old job. She said she was told by a Black manager that Ruby Tuesday’s corporate policy would require her to remove her braided hairstyle in order to be rehired.

She said she was told it was an “image” thing. Salvant said she had worn the braids when she worked at the restaurant a year ago, but the manager told her it was a new policy and that she could start work if she took her braids out.

“I took the train back home and I called my mom on my way home and I started crying because I felt it was a degrading policy,” said the Brooklyn, N.Y. native. “There’s no reason why they should have such a policy like that that discriminates against people who look like me,” Salvant said. A dancer and a dance coach, Salvant says she wears braids 90 percent of the time because of convenience and that she has never chemically treated her hair.

The college sophomore took action. She called the Ruby Tuesday Corporate headquarters in Maryville, Tenn., and complained, only to hear a corporate employee defend the policy. Then she collected approximately 500 names of Howard students, faculty and staff in protest of what she had been told by the restaurant management was an anti-braids policy at Ruby Tuesday. The chain has more than 925 restaurants across the nation.

She also sought media attention. The NNPA News Service got no answer to repeated phone calls to the D.C. restaurant on 7th Street in China Town. But, a spokesman for the Ruby Tuesday corporate headquarters in Maryville, Tenn., initially confirmed the anti-braids policy in a tape recorded interview with NNPA.

“Our policy for our dress code says that multiple braids are not acceptable as part of the dress code, said Ruby Tuesday spokesman Richard Johnson. Later, Johnson had a reversal of the policy%uFFFDblaming local restaurant managers for a misinterpretation of the policy. “The issue that was raised, the question that was raised was whether or not servers can wear multiple braids working in our restaurants, the answer is yes they can.

“And, yes, our managers have been interpreting the policy to say that they can not. That’s not been correct. And it will be corrected,” Johnson said.

______ Copyright 2008 NNPA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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