AN OWNER of one of the most expensive hair salons in the city routinely belittled an African-American hair stylist with racial comments and blasted her for bringing in black and Hispanic clients instead of white ones, a lawsuit charges.
“Black hair doesn’t pay the bills in here,” George Casson, a part owner, is accused of telling stylist Zandra Bennett.
Bennett is suing Orlo, a Meatpacking District salon that charges $800 for a haircut and has celebrity clients like Jennifer Connelly, Kirsten Dunst and Naomi Campbell.
According to court papers, Bennett started as an assistant in April 2010. She was promoted to stylist five months later.
Stylist Orlando Pita, part-owner of his namesake Orlo salon, works on Naomi Campbell’s look. Despite the supermodel’s appearances at the salon, an ex-stylist says in a discrimination suit that she was told by Pita’s partner that “black hair doesn’t pay the bills in here.”
Until she was fired in January 2011, Bennett says in the suit, she was barraged with racial comments from Casson and a receptionist, Alfred Malavo.
She said Casson, who did not respond to calls, steered black clients to her, telling her she “doesn’t know how to do white hair” and calling Bennett’s hair “nappy.”
Bennett also said Malavo called her names like “blackie” and “n—–ette” and “slave.”
When she was hospitalized for job-related stress in January 2011, Casson fired her by text message.
Bennett is charging that Casson, his partner and the salon’s namesake Orlando Pita and Malavo, created a hostile and discriminatory work environment.
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