Dad takes to Twitter to help teen daughter find a job after she's fired over her hair color

Joe says his oldest daughter Jess was recently fired from her job in the hospitality industry because of her colorful hair. The 19-year-old was getting ready for yet another job interview when her dad decided to turn to Twitter in hopes of helping his daughter out.

Joe wrote that his daughter has had “a fairly rubbish time lately,” explaining that “her last employer decided her hair color was stopping her work productivity and fired her.” He also gave his daughter a glowing recommendation, writing, “She’s a hard worker and good kid.”

Jess and her father, Joe Blakeney. (Photo: Twitter/JBizzlington)
Jess and her father, Joe Blakeney. (Photo: Twitter/JBizzlington)

He expected a couple of retweets, but the doting dad got a lot more than he bargained for. Three hours later, it had 25 retweets. “Wow! 25 RT’s. Thanks everyone. Appreciate the help,” he gushed on Twitter.

Now, two days later, it has almost 13,000 likes and 9,000 retweets. “I never anticipated it to go viral,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

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Jess started her previous job in September 2016. “I was working in the hospitality industry, in a casual role,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle. “I was responsible for setting up equipment, maintaining hygiene standards around the building, ensuring customers were satisfied, setting up for children’s parties and other events, as well as bartending at events with anywhere from 20 to 1,000 people.” She went on to become a receptionist for them. “Before leaving, I’d been very involved in planning an upcoming event for the company.”

As her position evolved throughout her tenure, her hair color was also ever-changing. “When I attended my first interview and received the job offer, my hair was a bright, light blue and half of my head was shaved,” Jess says. “By the time I had my first shift, my hair was a hot-pink color.”

She says the first time she heard anything about her hair color being an issue was a year and a half later. “The year and a half that I was there, my hair was always brightly colored and I hadn’t received a single complaint from customers or colleagues. I wasn’t shown the uniform policy until a few weeks before I was fired, when my hair was a tidy, medium length, and dyed green,” she explains. Jess also pointed out that the policy was vague, “simply stating ‘no outrageous hairstyles.’” The site manager emailed this information to her 16 months after she had started her job.

Jess says the bright hair colors help her fight depression. (Photo: Twitter/JBizzlington)
Jess says the bright hair colors help her fight depression. (Photo: Twitter/JBizzlington)

Knowing how difficult it would be to lose her job while living with her parents, who both earn “minimal wage” and are raising her four other siblings (with one on the way), in addition to caring for pets in public housing, Jess took the higher road. “I offered to cooperate and try to come to an agreement that everyone was happy with, but I ended up feeling singled out and attacked,” she says.

Apparently, Jess wasn’t the only person in the company with dyed hair, “but I was the only one to lose my job over it,” she says. She also says her former manager didn’t follow the “inconsistent” policy, making her dismissal “highly hypocritical,” in her opinion.

“So I stood my ground, with good reason,” Jess says. She sent a polite email to her manager, “outlining all of my issues with the situation, but it didn’t resolve anything, and I was completely overlooked.”

She was suspended on Jan. 29, 2018. “But then they decided to cancel my suspension and just get rid of me instead,” she says. And the reason for that is even worse than dyed hair. “Because I’d removed the job from my employment info on Facebook, of all things,” she explains. “At that point, I wasn’t remotely proud to be associated with the company following the poor treatment that I’d experienced.”

To Jess, this job was not worth changing a part of herself: “I’ve had colored hair for as long as I can remember! I first dyed it pink in summer 2012, and haven’t seen my natural hair color since. I don’t know why I do it, other than it making me happy. I feel much more comfortable in my skin with colored hair. It’s who I am, and quite simply it’s fun and makes me feel good about myself.”

Jess suffers from anxiety and depression, but she’s found that getting creative with her hair helps alleviate the symptoms. “Living with poor mental health, it’s amazing — and actually very important — to find something that makes you feel that little bit better about yourself,” she says. “Colored hair does that for me, so it’s not something that I’d give up to please somebody else.”

And while she’s an outspoken and bold person, Jess was shocked that her dad would do something even more bold than shaving off half of the hair on her head. “I had no idea about the post until I got home from a job interview that day, and it had no more than 50 reactions,” she shares. “Now that it’s taken off a bit more, it all feels a bit strange, but I’m grateful that people are listening and supporting me.”

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This isn’t the only thing Joe revealed about his daughter on Twitter. The next day, the 39-year-old dad decided to share a bit more about Jess’s struggles. Joe shared that Jess was sexually assaulted three years ago, something the family is still coping with. “This has seen both of our mental healths take a battering,” he wrote. “We are both diagnosed with anxiety and depression but we both sought help.”

However, having her dad reveal something so personal wasn’t an issue for Jess. As she puts it, “I’m incredibly open and public about everything that happened to me, for a few reasons. Most importantly because I really want to help and protect other young people who may have experienced similar things. I know how tough the whole process is, battling with yourself as well as the bad people out there. It’s also about prevention. It’s about exposing the signs and the phrases and behaviors and manipulation of abusive people — because I know all too well that it’s hard to detect until it’s too late.”

She adds, “I want people to know that it’s more than possible to carry on after experiencing abuse and assault.”

Struggling to find a job for the past two months hasn’t made things any easier on the family. Jess started a GoFundMe page to raise money for things like transportation and clothing for job interviews, potential job training opportunities, and helping her parents to “provide for the family.” Hopefully, Twitter will work its magic and all of this attention will help Jess get the break she needs.

So far, it’s looking good. “The responses have been mostly positive,” Joe says. “As expected, there have been a small minority of spiteful and disrespectful comments, but there have also been a few leads for job interviews.”

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