Former WATE morning weather anchor Tabitha Bartoe is claiming her hairstyle got her fired from the Knoxville, Tenn., ABC affiliate.
Bartoe told the Knox News she was let go on May 9 because her style didn’t align with company policy.
“It doesn’t even sound real,” Bartoe told Knox News. “The whole thing just sounds like a joke. And I wish it was.”
Bartoe said station management made vague requests for her to soften her curls.
“It wasn’t necessarily a problem in the beginning because I was just assuming that they were just trying to help me and trying to build my professional image,” Bartoe said. “I was willing to take advantage of it, but I think it was right away when they asked me if I was willing to ever get my hair relaxed. Or, ‘If you straighten your hair, the curl will fall out over time; that’s what we’re looking for.’
The station even sent her to a curly hair specialist with instructions to make her curls more defined, which conflicted with the station’s early suggestion to soften her curls.
She said she doesn’t know whether news director Alison Coe approved of the new looks after her appointments − only that she was asked to smile for a photo to send to gm Kim Byrd.
“I had no say in how my hair was supposed to be done for both appointments,” she said. “It was just what they wanted. I did not feel comfortable in either of those situations.”