Tyler House was only trying to earn some coins as an employee at a movie theater in County Club Hills, Ill. when she was fired on her first day for sporting dreadlocks.
Speaking to WGN last week, the 16-year-old says she secured the job through a phone call interview at Marcus Cinemas with a supervisor in September. When House attended orientation on Monday (Oct. 3), she was told her dreadlocks, which rest neatly on her shoulders, were not permitted. “He called my name and brought me to the hallway and said, ‘Dreads are not allowed,’” said House about her encounter with the manager. Distraught, House said she planned to wear her dreads in a ponytail with the uniformed hat she would receive. After being told she had to get rid of her dreadlocks due to company policy, she shook the manager’s hand before she went home.
Her sister took to social media to call out the company and their questionable policy on the natural hairstyle. From there, House’s story went viral.
“Why is it that dreadlocks are not permitted in your employees but it’s ok for us to spend our dreadlock money in your company? I don`t understand.” House’s mother Darnetta Herring said. “They come to an African American neighborhood, but they discriminate against some of us. I don`t understand it.” House, confused and saddened over the incident, was contacted by the cinema just days later with another employment offer. House declined since she believed the apology stemmed from the negative attention the theater received just weeks before its grand opening. The company also issued an apology to the 16-year-old on their Facebook page and planned to rework its policy.
Ann Stadler, a spokeswoman for Marcus Cinemas, tells The Chicago Tribune the company is looking at past applicants who might’ve been declined for employment over their hairstyles. “We have policies in terms of our grooming standards and dreadlocks had been one of those items on there,” Stadler said.
House tells reporters she was contacted by one other person who was also turned away from a position at the theater over their hairstyle. AMC theaters in Crestwood have reached out to House for a possible position at their theater.