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EEOC Sues Cost Cutters Hair Salon For Retaliation

Roanoke-Based Company Unlawfully Fired Hair Stylist for Complaining About Racist Slurs, Federal Agency Charges

ROANOKE , Va. – Tomlin Hair Care, Inc., doing business as Cost Cutters Family Hair Care, unlawfully fired hair stylist Pam Hairston for complaining about an assistant manger’s racist comments, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in an employment discrimination lawsuit filed today. The company operates 14 hair salons in the southwest Virginia and Knoxville, Tenn., regions and employs approximately 90 employees. Hairston worked at the defendant’s salon in Martinsville, Va.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, the assistant manager subjected Hairston, who is African-American, to racist slurs in two separate incidents occurring in March and April 2008. In each incident, the assistant manager made references to African-Americans by the N-word. On April 24, 2008 Hairston met with her operations manager and salon manager and complained to both supervisors about the assistant manager’s offensive remarks. The EEOC alleges that several weeks later, on May 17, 2008 the salon manager discharged Hairston in retaliation for Hairston’s race-related complaint.

Retaliation for complaining about discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Danville Division (EEOC v. Tomlin Hair Care, Inc., dba Cost Cutters Family Hair Care, Civil Action No. 4:10-cv-43), after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

The EEOC seeks back pay, reinstatement, past and future pecuniary losses, past and future non-pecuniary losses, compensatory damages and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief.

“Employees should be confident that they can make their employers aware of violations of federal anti-discrimination laws without fear of reprisal,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office whose jurisdiction includes Virginia. “The anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII are indispensable to the attainment of a workplace free of discrimination.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at