Melphine Evans Claims She Was Fired as BP Oil Executive Over Dashikis and Braided Hair

Categories: Court

Melphine-Evans.jpg
Melphine Evans joined BP in 2001 and the La Palma office in 2008.
The former chief financial officer of a British Petroleum Oil Co. division alleges in Orange County Superior Court that she was fired and replaced by a younger white male after being warned about dashikis and braided hair she wore to work.

Melphine Evans is suing BP Products North America, her former BP West Coast Products office in La Palma and nine individuals.

Represented by Michael Taitelman of Freedman + Taitelman of Los Angeles, Evans seeks unspecified damages for race and gender discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination.

"Generally, BP does not publicly discuss personnel issues," BP spokesman Scott Dean told Courthouse News Service's Jamie Ross. "However, BP treats all employees fairly. BP disagrees with the claims and will vigorously defend the suit."

dashiki-and-braids.jpg
Discomfort making?
"You intimidate and make your colleagues uncomfortable by wearing ethnic clothing and ethnic hairstyles ('Dashikis,' 'twists,' 'braids/cornrows')," the former CFO claims she was told by superiors, according to her complaint.

"On one occasion, a BP representative went so far as to ask Ms. Evans 'if she understood that wearing a "dashiki" to work makes her colleagues feel uncomfortable?'" continues the complaint. "If you insist on wearing ethnic clothing/hairstyles, you should only do so during 'culture day,' black history month or special diversity events/days. ... 'If you are going to wear ethnic clothing, you should alert people in advance that you will be wearing something ethnic.'"

Her company bio indicated she joined BP in 2001, worked in several leadership positions and was sent to the La Palma facility's finance office in 2008.

Dean noted to Ross that the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing dismissed a discrimination complaint Evans filed last year, with the agency indicating, "Based upon its investigation, DFEH is unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes a violation of the statute."

But Evans essentially counters in her suit that her employer made up "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."

The suit quotes a performance feedback review that allegedly stated, "Melphine is a people person. She engages her entire organization and is sincere in her desire to ensure all are valued and heard."

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!



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30 comments
sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

LETS BE CLEAR


while she looks great by my standards




if we are going to go for equality then she deserves to be fired



anything that suggest pro ( fill in the blank) this or that has been shown to be "controversial"



a pro mccain shirt?


no


a pro obama shirt ?


no




Again, she looks fine to me, but standards are standards and her "pro" african wear is 


NOT NEUTRAL 



Also, her claims about the intimidation via the clothing sounds like race baiting 




Anonymous
Anonymous

Oops, I screwed up royally. Wrote a nice response, tried to sign in then poof it disappeared and posted this Test when I was trying to access. Oh well ... too much to try to retype and I'm not in the mood to try to remember what I wrote. Hoping OCW might find it in their recycle bin and post.

There is another side to the story and the truth always comes out, doesn't it?

JGlanton
JGlanton topcommenter

She is either the stupidest CFO of a large corporation in history, or she is completely bought into the entitlement mentality. You're a CFO. You dress the part. Period. Bitch. C-level execs have the shortest job retention rate of any position in a corporation, and she has the nerve to wear african shirts? Don't let the door hit you... 


I'll betcha that they kept her aboard much longer than they wanted to. Probably gave her every chance to shape up. Because they knew she had an entitlement mentality, knew she would pull the race card.


Wait, what? You thought this was a Portland anarchist books and incense store and you could dress how you want?


rtf916
rtf916

BP boasts of its minority hiring, as long as the minority employees don't start acting all like minorities...

Claire Morgan
Claire Morgan

her hair is fine, but her outfit is not appropriate for work in a corporate environment.

Ed Herro
Ed Herro

Saying that "wearing ethnic clothing and hairstyles makes her co-workers uncomfortable" was where they went wrong and is certainly not a reason to fire someone. However, The truth is that her attire and hairstyles are inappropriate in a professional business environment.

Baron Von GuacaMølé
Baron Von GuacaMølé

People still wear dashikis? what is this 1972? seriously, if you want people to take you seriously dress appropriately!you work of a ruthless world polluting petro-chemical company. Sheesh.

Steve SanFilipo
Steve SanFilipo

I bet she's right. Everyone knows no black person was ever fired justifiably. They only get fired due to discrimination.

Mike Harmanos
Mike Harmanos

Disgusted and amazed how organizations would just throw away talent.

JGlanton
JGlanton topcommenter

@brothaslide  Oh yeah, GREAT analagy <sarc>.  West Coast Customs equates to BP. LOL. 


On the other hand, WCC might fire someone who doesn't have tats and like pitbulls. A corporation must have standards. 

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

@JGlanton 


you could be correct


sans the "bitch" part


when the government uses its might to force others into  acceptance of racism, 


we get this entitlement mentality 



and then the courts back it up


when will the left start treating people equally and stop pushing for unfair /biased laws

brothaslide
brothaslide

@JGlanton So she has an entitlement mentality and you called her a bitch?  You're a real keyboard warrior.  You really assumed a lot about this women; you also assumed she was pulling the race card.  


Is that what black women are to you?. . . bitches, angry, entitled, making excuses for bad behavior, etc.?





JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

"Wait, what? You thought this was a Portland anarchist books and incense store and you could dress how you want?"  

LMFAO 

WiserWords2
WiserWords2

@rtf916   I think it's as long as they don't start LOOKING like minorities.

brothaslide
brothaslide

I'm curious, what is an appropriate corporate hair style for a black women?  Seriously, I want to know. . .  Remember, a black women's hair has a completely different texture and look than a white and Asian woman's hair.

brothaslide
brothaslide

Steve, we all know that there are instances where blacks have pulled the race card to excuse and justify bad behavior; it has happened WAY more than it should.  But sarcastically making the point by implying that is what has happened here is just wrong on your part.


Just because you have the last name SanFilipo, I'm not going to assume that you or someone in your family is connected to the mob.  So please don't assume the worst about this women because she is black.

brothaslide
brothaslide

@JGlanton @brothaslide If you read my comment, I said that I thought the Dashiki was too casual  on the other hand if you have a problem with her hair then you're just wrong.  The American standard of beauty, a slender blond hair and blued eyed white women doesn't apply to everyone as not all people are WHITE!!!!!  Regarding West Coast Customs, I said no one is intimidated by his tats or how he looks.  Why would fellow employees be intimidated by a Dashiki and braids?  BTW, many corporations have casual Friday's.  We don't know if she was dressed like this all the time or if it was a casual work day.  If it was a casual Friday or some other time, like working on the weekend for a project, then someone having a problem with her dress is just plain bigoted.



FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

I think some people still have a hostile attitude towards ANY woman who refuses to be treated like a doormat...:-(

dbo90275
dbo90275

@brothaslide said: "I'm curious, what is an appropriate corporate hair style for a black women? Seriously, I want to know. . . "

Brutha D says, short and neat like the first picture.  Ain't no rockit science, my brutha' . . .

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

@brothaslide @JGlanton 


you said the American standard of beauty


as if there is something wrong with the exclusivity of that



we all know beauty is in the eye of the beholder


and a predominant trait or act etc will elicit a standard



example:


michael jordan set the American standard for ballplayers in


his athleticism his demand to others that they wear suits after the games etc




sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

@FishWithoutBicycle 


and some people still think that any differing of thought is that of an evil person


YOU stated "any" women


the fact that she is in a high level position ( oH NO IS THAT AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AT WORK



OR did she earn her way 


(guess we'll never know since the left thinks so lowly of blacks )



probably dictates her clothing be of a particular style

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

I thank you. Unfortunately I can speak from personal experience...

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

@brothaslide @dbo90275 


agree with brothas


on this in regards to the hairstyle



if she had the hair colored up , that would be cause for concern  



AGAIN, THIS IS HER SIDE OF THE STORY 



brothaslide
brothaslide

@dbo90275 @brothaslide Short and neat?  The new CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra has long pretty hair - a good looking woman!  So white and Asian women can wear their hair long and pretty but a sista' goota' wear her hair short and neat?  Hmmmmm. . . .

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