A San Diego man is suing the sunglasses company Oakley for harassment and discrimination because his general manager told him his hair color needed to be closer to his skin color.
It happened inside the Gaslamp Oakley retail store on 5th Avenue. That was when Anthony Merriweather was told to go home because his hair color violated the company's dress code.
"Having my hair orange, orange is my favorite color, so when I go out there you see my hair orange, you get to ask me why and I get to tell you about my cousin," said Merriweather.
Merriweather credits his older cousin with making him who he is today - sadly she died from sickle cell disease eight years ago. So, when he got out of the military - he grew out his hair and colored it orange as a tribute.
"Seeing the orange reminded me of Desiree, and I have to embrace who I am," explained Merriweather.
But last month Merriweather got sent home from this Oakley store for insubordination - his hair was too orange too bright according to his boss.
Merriweather videotaped the conversation. A 10-page transcription of their tense discussion is included in the civil suit.
In the conversation, Merriweather's boss is heard saying, "It's not a natural hair color" and "it has to be close to your skin color."
NBC 7 reached out to Oakley for comment but has not yet received a response.
"When I heard the audio, and I heard Anthony has to change his hair to match the color of his skin, that was the whole purpose of the Crown Act and the public policy behind it," Brad Nakase, Merriweather's attorney said.
California's Crown Act ensures protection against discrimination in the workplace based on natural hairstyles.
"Like when you're being discriminated and harassed it's an ugly violating feeling, it doesn't matter what it is, what the topic is, in that moment all you can think is please is please help, like what's going on, like you know, is this really happening," said Merriweather.
The lawsuit claims Merriweather suffered harm, embarrassment, and severe emotional distress as a result of this incident. But he says it's not just about him.
"This needs to stop; no one else should have to experience this. Ever," said Merriweather.
According to the transcription of the taped conversation with Merriweather's boss, she is heard saying that the dress code violation has nothing to do with his dreadlocks and is all about the color of his hair.