Charleen Momperousse, a Haitian/African-American JetBlue flight attendant, has filed a lawsuit against the company after she was "grounded" from a flight because of her haircut.
Momperousse, who's worked for the airline for over 10 years, was on her way to work the next leg of a three-day flight when she was pulled aside and told that her hairstyle was in violation of company policy. A supervisor labeled it an "extreme mohawk" and she was grounded without pay, the New York Daily News reports.
The company's policy bans flight attendants from sporting "extreme" colors and highlights, as well as styles such as mohawks, faux hawks, mullets, bantu knots, and shaved designs. However, Momperousse's lawsuit claims that the policy was not enforced equally among all employees, pointing as an example to a Hispanic male coworker with the sides of his hair shaved and a white woman who sported an up-do with the sides gelled down, neither of whom were reprimanded.
Momperousse believes the policy is unfair to Black employees and that it targets people like her "merely due to the texture of their hair."
"This is a case where who's to say they can define it as a mohawk? I want to be clear this is not about color, race. None of that. This is about accepting people for who they are," said Chauncey Henry, Momperousse's lawyer.
According to both Momperousse and Henry, JetBlue made its uniform policy even stricter after the 2015 incident, which is the exact opposite of what they want; one of the goals of Momperousse's lawsuit is for the company to "ensure some level of sensitivity applied" when dictating how employees dress and style themselves.
Momperousse, who's still an employee of JetBlue, now hides her hair at work with weaves and wigs in an effort to "not draw attention to" herself.
As per their policy, a spokesperson for JetBlue declined to comment on pending litigation, but did tell the Daily News, "We value diversity and that is reflected across our 20,000 crew members who comply with our appearance standards every day."
[Photo: NY Daily News]