Former Dillard's Hair Stylists Allege Discriminatory Practices at Beauty Salons; Lawsuit Claiming "Wash & Set" Prices Higher for Black Customers Verified

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Dillard's Department Store faces another class action law suit-- this time for racial discrimination in their beauty salons. Discriminatory practices alleged by former hair stylists from Dillard's in sworn affidavits.

Following a policy imposed by Dillard’s management, Dillard’s salons have charged significantly more for the same salon services for African American customers than for Caucasian customers. . . Dillard’s has profited from this discriminatory and illegal pricing scheme, while intentionally concealing it from the public.

The Dillard’s department store chain is the defendant in a federal class action lawsuit that was filed in April 2005, alleging racial discrimination and deceptive sales practices relating to the marketing and sale of beauty salon services. Dillard’s continues to deny these charges, but several former hairstylists from Dillard’s salons in Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and Georgia confirm the racist practices alleged by plaintiffs. Unbelievably, Dillard’s has responded with sworn declarations which contain racist and inflammatory statements from its own current stylists.

One of the most offensive positions taken by Dillard’s is Dillard’s contention that the hair of African-Americans is dirtier than the hair of Caucasians. In a recent court filing, a current stylist from Dillard’s Jackson, MS salon where Plaintiff Artis Smith received services stated: “ I cannot shampoo an African-American customer in the same time as I can a Caucasian customer. It may take two or three shampoo applications to get the typical African-American customer’s hair clean but it may take less for Caucasian hair.”

Other current Dillard’s stylists have submitted written declarations to the court which contain statements such as “ethnic hair is harder to handle, coarser and breaks more easily.” This statement comes from a stylist at Dillard’s Madison Square Mall location in Huntsville, Alabama, where Plaintiff Sandra Moody experienced discrimination. Another current stylist from that same salon says “ In my experience, the hair of African-American customers takes longer to do. Also, more heat is needed to get it straight. I have found that the hair is more fragile and breakage is more likely to occur.” A Dillard’s stylist from Florence, AL states “I understand [ethnic hair] to mean African-American hair, usually difficult to work with and tending to be dry, coarse and frizzy.” Such sweeping stereotypes assume that all African-Americans have the same type and texture of hair.

Debbie Deavers Sturdivant experienced racial discrimination at the Dillard’s Salon in Tuscaloosa (AL) when she visited the salon for a wash & set; Vaughan Thomas experienced the same treatment in the Montgomery Dillard’s Salon and recorded her conversation with the stylists. Patrick Cooper, an attorney for the plaintiffs, urges any former or current Dillard's hair stylists who have knowledge of Dillard's discriminatory practices to contact him at 205-254-1089.

The original class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court in the Northern District of Alabama by Debbie Deavers Sturdivant, a Springville, AL resident. The civil action [CV-05-TMP-0305-W] states, “Following a policy imposed by Dillard’s management, Dillard’s salons have charged significantly more for the same salon services for African American customers than for Caucasian customers. . . Dillard’s has profited from this discriminatory and illegal pricing scheme, while intentionally concealing it from the public.”

Although discovery is ongoing, evidence demonstrating that Dillard’s discriminatory pricing has interfered with the rights of African-Americans is substantial and has also been confirmed by over a dozen former hair stylists at Dillard’s Salons nationwide.

The Plaintiffs seek injunctive and equitable relief, punitive damages and other remedies to stop Dillard’s allegedly unlawful and racially discriminatory conduct.

Dillard’s is Delaware Corporation headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas. It is a publicly traded company with annual revenues exceeding $7.8 billion. Dillard’s owns over 330 department stores in 29 different states, with a concentration of stores in the South and Southwest. At present, Dillard’s operates over 70 hair salons. Dillard’s has faced several discrimination lawsuits since 1988, claiming racial discrimination. Of these numerous cases, a few include:

  •     a verdict against Dillard’s in the case of a black customer who died after being beaten and hogtied at one of its Texas stores.
  •     a verdict against Dillard’s in which a black woman was awarded $1.1 million dollars because Dillard’s accused her of shoplifting and denied her a perfume sample after she had just made a purchase.
  •     A case in Mississippi which accuses Dillard’s of “tracking” African-American customers who enter the store and using race “codes” to identify black shoppers as being suspicious.

Notice to Press:

1.    DVD of affidavits of former Dillard’s hair stylists is available.

2.    Printed copies of various affidavits and declarations from Hair Stylists are available

3.    CD of the recorded conversation between Vaughn Thomas and a Dillard’s Stylist is available – as well as a written transcript of the conversation.

To speak with any of the hair stylists, the Plaintiffs, and/or their attorney (Patrick Cooper), please contact First Class, Inc. at 404-505-8188.


Plaintiff Representatives in the Class Action:

1.    Debbie Deavers Sturdivant – (Springville, AL) – Tuscaloosa, AL

2.    Vaughn Thomas – Montgomery, AL

3.    Patricia Mallory – Montgomery, AL

4.    Hollis Casey – Montgomery, AL

5.    Artis Smith – Jackson, MS

6.    Vanessa Jones – Montgomery, AL

7.    Sandra Moody – Huntsville, AL

8.    Lessie Harris – Tuscaloosa, AL

Affidavits from Former Dilliard’s Hair Stylists:

1.    Marcanna Kimball – Caucasian Stylist in Decatur, Alabama, Dillard’s Salon

2.    Rosalyn Shelton – African American Stylist in Augusta, Georgia, Dillard’s Salon

3.    Jeanne Honore – African American Stylist in New Orleans, LA, Salon

4.    Mathilda Stevens – African American Stylist in Baton Rouge, LA, Salon

5.    Tabitha Winters – African American Stylist in Nashville, Tennessee, Salon

6.    Victor Kutz – Caucasian Stylist in Decatur, Alabama, Dillard’s Salon

7.    Whykiea (Kia) Cohn – African American Stylist in Decatur, Alabama, Dillard’s Salon

8.    Marita Boon – Stylist in the Huntsville, Alabama, Dillard’s Salon

Depositions from Current Management and Employees:

9.     Karl Ederer – VP of Salon Division

10.    Julia Watt - VP of Salon Division

11.    Kristy Jackson – Montgomery, Alabama, Dillard’s Salon

12.    Cynthia Ellison – Huntsville, Alabama, Dillard’s Salon Coordinator

13.    Wesley Roden – former Salon Manager in Decatur, Alabama, Dillard’s Salon


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