A Woman Claims The St. Regis Hotel Fired Her Because She Has Dreadlocks

Fancy people demand fancy things, so it makes sense a fancy hotel would have a dress code for employees. But, a woman with dreadlocks was fired from the St. Regis Hotel in New York City, and she thinks it had everything to do with her appearance, even though the hotel’s dress and “appearance standards” say nothing about dreadlocks at all.  

Carrie Bloom, the vice president for global corporate communications at Starwood Hotels, which manages the St. Regis, told The Frisky in an email, “The accusation is absolutely false. We are very proud of our excellent record for diversity and inclusion.” The hotel added, “By policy, we are unable to discuss specifics about the reason for an associate’s separation from employment, but can say it had nothing to do with what has been alleged.”

Nonetheless, Rachel Sakabo told Buzzfeed she doesn’t buy it. “I don’t think I was rightfully let go,” she said. “I definitely think it has to do with the fact that I’m black and I have dreads.”

Sakabo told Buzzfeed she was stoked to get a job at the hotel after months of unemployment. She’s also used to working for stuffy institutions, considering she used to work for the Rainbow Room and another Manhattan hotel.

She was trained at the St. Regis this summer, when she still had her dreads, and attended an orientation that was a lot about appearance and how to interact with guests. Not long after, she claims she was let go for not being a “good fit” with the “culture” of the St. Regis, although the hotel hasn’t explained what that means. According to Sakabo, a manager at the front desk told her a week or so in that she wasn’t allowed to have dreadlocks, even though there was no mention of that in any employee handbook or anything. Sakabo said she told her manager that she would shave her head if need be, to show that she really wanted (and needed) the job. She kept them, but a week later she was let go.

A friend at the hotel told her she could go to the New York Hotel Workers Union to complain about the firing, but she would have to be employed by the hotel for 60 days before the union could help her. So, she was sort of left without any recourse.

Here’s the thing — Sakabo has experience in the hotel industry and the hotel didn’t give any other reasons for firing her except that she didn’t fit in, according to her account. And the whole point of a long interview process and training period that takes weeks is so the employer can determine if one is a good fit for the work culture or not before someone starts the job.

Apparently, Sakabo’s appearance was fine until one person took issue with it. Sakabo told Buzzfeed it was personal and her situation was specific to the New York City location and someone “who does not feel comfortable” with her being there.