Brandon Kobe Pierce grew up visiting the Six Flags in Arlington, Texas, close to his home. When he set out to find his first real job, he thought the amusement park would be a good choice, particularly since his grandfather had worked there decades ago. Connie Pierce, Kobe’s mom, told WFAA, “We encouraged him to go to Six Flags.”
The 16-year-old wears his hair in a braid that sits just past his shoulders, something that he sees as part of his identity. However, Six Flags didn't see it that way. “They pulled me aside at the end of it and said, ‘You would have to cut your hair or we can't hire you at Six Flags,’” Pierce said.
He asked if he had any other options, and was told that though women employees could wear their long hair in a bun, men didn’t have that choice. “If girls are able to pull their hair back and have it long, then guys shouldn't have to cut their hair,” Pierce said.
Another Texas teen also had a similar experience. Kerion Washington told NBC DFW that after an interview with Six Flags, he was told his shoulder-length dreadlocks would have to go. “They told me that I couldn’t have dreads because it’s more of an extreme hairstyle,” the 17-year-old told the news outlet.
Kerion’s mother Karis Washington subsequently called Six Flags’ Human Resources department for an explanation. Karis shared in a Facebook post. “[An HR Supervisor] said dreads are NOT allowed, but he can have braids. And said they are an extreme hairstyle. She also went on and compared them to tattoos and piercings.”
Six Flags presented a statement to WFAA, maintaining its decision:
“We maintain a company-wide grooming code that includes standard uniforms for front-line team members, limitations on tattoos, piercings, beards and no extreme hairstyles such as drastic variations in hair color, locks, or partially shaven heads. We do permit braids and we also recognize that some team members may request accommodations to our grooming code due to religious, cultural or medical reasons. We work with those team members on a case-by-case basis to address his or her individual needs and we pride ourselves on a diverse workforce.”
Pierce is hoping Six Flags will reconsider his hairstyle and see that it’s part of him.