January 16, 2019
Photo courtesy of Instagram (@thenoblejournalist)
Natural hair in the workplace has been a topic that’s been debated time and time again. And one anchor, Brittany Noble-Jones recently shared her story about being fired from WJTV, a local station in Jackson, Mississippi after her news director told her that straight hair was the way to go. On Instagram, the award-winning broadcaster shared an update to her journey that began last year.
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For all of you following my EEOC case against WJTV & Nexstar here is an update. In 2017 I filed a formal complaint after my boss told me “my natural hair was unprofessional, the equivalent to him wearing a baseball hat to go to the grocery store: viewers needed to see a beauty queen.” I wasn’t included in station promos while pregnant and postpartum.🤰🏾If you know me, you know my main concern is reporting but a number of my investigations about race were shut down. My boss would say my story pitches and tweets weren’t “for all people.” After enduring a two month long investigation (while positively representing the station on tv each day) my boss was fired and replaced by another man with the same systematic behavior. Btw it was only after filing the complaint that WJTV finally offered me a storage closet to pump milk for my son 6 hours into my shift during normal business hours. 🤱🏾 I finally reached out to the EEOC in April of 2018 for help. The next month I was terminated while using my accrued sick time to care for my dying grandfather. I began working with Antonio Jones a federal investigator with the EEOC. He would ask questions like “how many white employees have to wear wigs in order to do their jobs?” Suddenly I got an email that Jones would be gone for 2 months. It has come to my attention that my federal investigator had to file his own lawsuit against the EEOC. His case documents allege he made “formal complaints regarding the district director and local director. Both of these directors improperly and illegally closed cases to help out certain employers whereas this reflected receiving kickbacks.” I turned in everything I had to the state hoping they would fight for me. To think the state could actually be working with the corporations and not for the people is beyond disheartening. I would reach out to the EEOC for more information but they are closed due to the government shutdown. 🤦🏾♀️ It is my understanding that my investigator has been protesting himself (SWIPE) He is an army veteran who was injured in Iraq. While on sick leave- due to his disability- his cases including mine were taken away and he was reassigned to another state. 🤷🏾♀️
According to her story, there had been issues with regards to her going on for a while at the station. “In the beginning, it was a normal work environment. But after I volunteered to appear in a company-wide promo in March 2017, my boss told me, ‘People here think you’re into yourself,’ but he wouldn’t give me specific examples,” she said.
Shortly after shooting that promo, the mother of one, became nervous to tell her boss that she was pregnant in fear of how he would react. After telling him the news, she was looked over for certain assignments, and her story pitches, especially those regarding race relations were turned down because they weren’t “for all people.”
And things didn’t get better after the 32-year-old gave birth either. Her story proves to be quite the opposite reaction to the praise given to another anchor, Demetria Obilor, who proudly sports her curls: “After having my son, I asked my news director if I could stop straightening my hair. A month after giving me the green light I was pulled back into his office. I was told ‘My natural hair is unprofessional and the equivalent to him throwing on a baseball cap to go to the grocery store.’ He said, ‘Mississippi viewers needed to see a beauty queen’…When I asked him how I should address the change on social media he told me to write ‘I was told to change my hair back to the way it was because that’s what looks best.'”
Just last year, CURLS founder Mahisha Dellinger and Lil Mama talked about how far natural hair has come in society at the 49th NAACP Image Awards. Wearing natural hair is saying, “I love who I am, and I’m beautiful the way I am naturally,” expressed the CEO. Watch the full video below:
Noble-Jones eventually had enough and decided to file several complaints with Nexstar, the news station’s parent company, about the discrimination she received. When that didn’t work, in April 2018 she got the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) involved, which allegedly led to harassment by her higher-ups. “The internal harassment got so bad that I made several trips to the EEOC department begging for help. They finally took my case but warned me I would get fired,” she said.
Although the former Mississippi journalist was reportedly fired in May 2018 from her previous station, she boasts a resume with nearly a decade of news experience. Brittany was named the 2015 Emerging Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and was brought on by WJTV after her award-winning coverage of the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
TELL US: Do you think she should have been fired?