TikTokerin Kiara Barnett (@celebertey_taylor) says she was fired from Red Lobster for dying her hair, despite being hired while sporting the same hair color in her first interview with the grocery chain.
In a viral TikTok, Barnett says a new general manager told her she needed to dye her hair a “natural color” if she wanted to continue working there, so the server decided to record their interaction and upload it to the platform.
I’ve been working here since October/November and nobody has ever had a problem with my hair color and on her first day she tells me if I want to work there I have to change my hair color
♬ Boy is a Liar Pt. 2 – Pink Pantheress & Ice Cream Spice
Barnett tapes the CEO as she talks to her on camera. A text overlay in the clip reads, “POV: Your job gets a new GM and on her first day she says you can’t be there because of my hair color.”
She says to the manager, “Hair color? You will have no workers. You run this, you came in here today, and that’s how you treat all your workers? You won’t have any more damn workers.”
The manager stands by with her hands clasped before saying: “I’m very sorry if you feel like I don’t respect you. I do.”
The TikToker continues: “I really do because my hair color has nothing to do with how I work and whether I can work professionally. That’s Red Lobster, you know that? This is not nothing fine dining, nothing like that. You know that?”
It seems Barnett’s use of the word “fucking” wasn’t appreciated by the manager, because at this point in their conversation, she says, “You’re getting inappropriate, I’m going to ask you to leave.”
“I didn’t even yell at you, I was just talking,” the Red Lobster employee says before the video cuts off.
@celebertey_taylor in reply to @familymanzella #greenscreen ♬ Original sound – Kiaraaa
In a follow-up video, she explains the incident that led to her admission and responded to a user who appeared to be defending the manager for enforcing a dress code.
According to Barnett, she has worked at the Red Lobster location since October 2022, adding that she wore a red wig to the interview that landed her a position at the restaurant.
“I was never told in my interview that we couldn’t have ‘unnatural’ hair colors, and having worked there for so long, the old GM obviously saw my hair and so did the district manager,” she says. “He has my hair never said anything about it but the day this GM starts she says I have to dye my hair a natural color if I want to work there.”
The video then switches to her showing a poster that supposedly describes the dress code for employees at her Red Lobster location.
“The hair section needs to be neat and tidy, hair longer than shoulder length needs to be tied back,” she explains. “Nowhere does it say you can’t have dyed hair or colored hair, whatever.”
It seems other commenters mentioned something about Barnett’s long nails, which she addressed as well, saying, “I mean, I’m a waitress, I think I’m in the food industry, but really I just put plates on tables and bringing out drinks.” , so how is it so deep?”
She adds that the “point” of her video wasn’t that she was upset about the fact that she was fired, but that she ended up losing her job because of her hair color. She says it’s never been a problem before.
“Bitch, it’s a hair color. It’s 2023,” she says.
Barnett continues, “Curse words are just words to express yourself and I was very frustrated at that moment that it’s not illegal to swear, I was taking advantage of my freedom of expression.”
She says she contacted Red Lobster offices to discuss her firing, mentioning that the chain said the manager was wrong to fire her because of her hair color and that she will be reinstated. According to her, she was told she needed to get in touch with her district manager about this.
“I’ll talk to him and go from there,” she says.
However, in some follow-up TikToks, Barnett appears to have found a new job the next day. In her latest update, she says how her district manager, Andrew, claimed he was under the impression employees weren’t allowed to have “extreme hair colors”.
“So if you were aware of that rule, why wasn’t I told about it until then? [the new manager’s] first day?” Barnett says she asked him. “You’ve seen my hair before.”
The TikToker says Andrew replied that he’s either never seen her before or that he needs to “pay more attention.”
“As a district manager, you would think it was your job to keep up to date with these policies,” says Barnett.
She describes again how the manager got angry with her for using the word “fucking”. Though Barnett continues to defend her use of the word in the clip, she claims that the moment she used it, she knew she was “no longer busy.”
@celebertey_taylor in reply to @ellieisenough #greenscreenvideo ♬ Original sound – Kiaraaa
The Daily Dot contacted Barnett via TikTok comment and Red Lobster via email.
The fish chain’s dress code says nothing about dyed or dyed hair, according to Zippia, stating, “The dress code for Red Lobster restaurant staff is black trousers with a short-sleeved company-supplied shirt and white apron. Employees are required to wear black non-slip shoes. Name tags must be visible on your apron at all times. Long hair must be tied back on duty. Visible tattoos are allowed as long as they are tasteful. If tattoos are considered vulgar, inappropriate or offensive, they must be covered on duty.”
Viewers seemed divided over the interaction. Some defended Kiara, explaining that it doesn’t matter if she chose to use a swear word in the presence of another adult, even if it was at work, because the manager reprimanded her for trying to use a nonexistent one enforce company policy.
“What’s even crazier is that people are defending this woman for cursing them for being part of the problem,” one TikToker wrote.
Another wrote: “I don’t know a single person who has walked up to Red Lobster and said ‘OMG DYED HAIR? I’m leaving, it’s no big deal anymore.”
“I go on file as a Red Lobster customer and I don’t care what color my hair, how many piercings or how many tattoos I have. Service is important to me,” said another.
One user thought there was another reason the manager was isolating her, writing: “Because you’re young and cute she’s crazy.”
However, others mentioned that while it was good, Barnett stood up for herself, claiming she went about it the wrong way.
As one user wrote, “I’m all for standing up for yourself, but there’s a way to do it. You get more respect and are heard. Now all HR will hear that they are upset.”
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https://www.dailydot.com/irl/red-lobster-employee-fired-colored-hair/ Red Lobster Server says she was fired because of her dyed hair