BP executive says she was fired for wearing “ethnic clothing and ethnic hairstyles”

Melphine Evans, a black female executive at BP, says she was told her clothing made others "uncomfortable"

Topics: Race, Racism, Sexism, Discrimination, employer discrimination, BP, , ,

BP executive says she was fired for wearing "ethnic clothing and ethnic hairstyles" (Credit: AP)

A black female executive at British oil giant BP is suing the company, alleging she was told that the clothing she wore was inappropriate, and should only be worn “during ‘culture day,’ black history month or special diversity events.”

Melphine Evans was vice president and CFO at two BP subsidiaries before she was fired.

According to the suit, filed with the Orange County Superior Court this week, Evans says that her supervisors told her that her dashiki and braided hair made other employees “uncomfortable.”

Evans was told, “You intimidate and make your colleagues uncomfortable by wearing ethnic clothing and ethnic hairstyles,” according to the suit, as reported by Courthouse News. “If you are going to wear ethnic clothing, you should alert people in advance that you will be wearing something ethnic.”

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Evans’ supervisors and defendants in the case, Rita Griffin and Nick Elmslie, allegedly told her that they were terminating her employment because she “did not get along well with her teammates and colleagues,” according to the suit. But Evans’ official 360 evaluative performance feedback reviews, completed by colleagues that were selected by Griffin and Elmslie, indicate that Evans was considered “a people person” who “engages her entire organization and is sincere in her desire to ensure all are valued and heard.”

In a statement on the suit, BP said: “BP treats all employees fairly.  BP disagrees with the claims and will vigorously defend the suit.”

h/t ThinkProgress

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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