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A former stylist has accused a hip and exclusive Manhattan salon of racial discrimination in a new lawsuit filed in state court. Zandra Bennett claims her boss and a fellow employee at Orlo Salon in the Meatpacking District made racial comments before she was fired via text message in January 2011.
Boss and part owner George Casson allegedly called her hair "nappy," while receptionist Alfred Malavo is accused of calling her "Blackie Chan" and "Blackquisha." These comments, Bennett asserts, created an illegally hostile work environment.
As did other alleged comments. In addition to the above slurs, George Casson is accused of telling Zandra Bennett that "black hair doesn't pay the bills," reports the New York Daily News. He also allegedly criticized her for bringing in black and Hispanic clients.
Together, these allegations form the basis of a strong hostile work environment claim. While employed at Orlo Salon, Bennett appears to have been subjected to a racially-charged and offensive atmosphere. That atmosphere was so bad, the Daily News reports that Bennett had to be hospitalized for stress.
In fact, it was during that hospitalization that she was fired, which brings disability discrimination issues into play.
Regardless, the greater issue here is that employers and employees are not allowed to use racial slurs or make derogatory racial remarks in the workplace. This sort of racial harassment is strictly forbidden by Title VII.
Even so, Zandra Bennett still waited until she was fired to sue Orlo Salon for its illegal behavior. She didn't have to. She could have -- and perhaps should have -- called a NYC discrimination attorney soon after the racial comments began.