A former top official of a British Petroleum Oil Co. division headquartered in California says she was fired after being warned to reserve dashikis and braided hairstyles for special observances in the workplace.
Melphine Evans, recently dismissed from her position as chief financial officer for BP said in a lawsuit filed in California’s Orange County Superior Court that she was told, “If you are going to wear ethnic clothing, you should alert people in advance that you will be wearing something ethnic.'”
Evans said she was told, “You intimidate and make your colleagues uncomfortable by wearing ethnic clothing and ethnic hairstyles (‘Dashikis,’ ‘twists,’ ‘braids/cornrows’) “, she said in her lawsuit filed in early December.
Her complaint alleged that she was told “If you insist on wearing ethnic clothing/hairstyles, you should only do so during ‘culture day,’ black history month or special diversity events/days.”
Evans seeks unspecified damages for race and gender discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination. She is suing BP Products North America, the BP West Coast Products Office in La Palma, Calif. and nine individuals.
“Generally, BP does not publicly discuss personnel issues,” BP spokesman Scott Dean told Courthouse News Service. “However, BP treats all employees fairly. BP disagrees with the claims and will vigorously defend the suit.”
She said she was fired and replaced by a younger White male after being warned about dashikis and braided hair she wore to work.
Evans joined BP in 2001 and in February 2008 Evans was appointed CFO, West Coast USA. She was responsible for all finance activities for BP’s Refining, Supply and Marketing, and Pipelines/Logistics businesses in the U.S. and Latin America convenience retail businesses.