Senior BP Executive Told "Ethnic" Hairstyle and Clothing "Intimidated" Her Colleagues

Working in corporate as a black woman means that you must always be cognizant of how you are viewed. Even if you attempt to break loose of those restraints, you will be reminded of the societal baggage you're expected to carry.

Melphine Evans is suing her former employer oil giant BP for inappropriate comments made by her supervisors about her hair and dress. Evans alleges she received directives that told her dashikis and braids should be reserved for "culture day, Black History Month or special diversity events."

According to the suit filed against BP Products North America, Evans was told, 'You intimidate and make your colleagues uncomfortable by wearing ethnic clothing and ethnic hairstyles

Before her termination, Evans was vice president and CFO of two BP subsidiaries. She began with the company in 2001 and was promoted into several executive positions until her firing in 2008.

She was told that her employment would be terminated because she "did not get along well with her colleagues and teammates." Her performance reviews by her colleagues, however, told a different story. They described Evans as a "people person" as as someone who "engages her entire organization and is sincere in her desire to ensure all are valued and heard."

Based on the suit filed in Orange County Superior Court, it seems that even the in C-Suite, a black woman should expect to be labeled as angry and aggressive without reason. She believes bullying and overly aggressive behavior complaints used to fire her to cover up "racist and sexist comments and actions and ... hostile and discriminatory treatment that was inconsistent with her similarly situated white counterparts at BP."



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