A lawsuit brought by two black women alleging discrimination by Hair Cuttery has been dismissed by a federal judge.
In a 50-page ruling issued Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow granted the Hair Cuttery's motion for summary judgment, determining that the chain of unisex hair salons owned by Vienna-based Creative Hairdressers Inc. did not differentiate services or prices for customers based on their race.
In January, Monica Clark of Capitol Heights and Leslie Mercer of Reston filed a class-action suit in federal court against the company, claiming that Hair Cuttery employees charge black people more for certain cuts and salon services and sometimes ignore black customers altogether. Clark alleged discrimination at three Hair Cuttery locations in Maryland and Virginia, saying that two times she was charged more than the advertised price and that one time she was passed over for a white customer.
Mercer claimed that when she requested a "roller set" at a location in Reston, hair stylists responded that her hair type was "too difficult."
Chasanow concluded that there was no evidence of institutional discrimination by the hair-salon chain. On the contrary, the judge said that the salons charged more for certain services based on sound business considerations, not solely on the race of the customer.
"The evidence shows that the amount charged for a service is related to how much time and effort is involved in that service," Chasanow wrote.
Hair Cuttery officials praised the decision. "The 50-page court opinion completely vindicates our policies, training and strong stance on zero-tolerance for discrimination. We investigated the allegations thoroughly and found no evidence to support them," said Hair Cuttery general counsel Les Mardiks in a written statement yesterday.
Clark and Mercer could not be reached for comment. Their attorney, Gregory L. Murphy, of the law firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP, did not return a phone call for comment.
Hair Cuttery, which owns nearly 1,000 locations on the East Coast and in the Chicago metropolitan area, recently announced plans for a national expansion by franchising its stores in new locations.