Passers-by in the 6000 block of Roswell Road from July 29 to Aug. 8 may have noticed protesters in front of E-Styles Unlimited.

The protesters say the hair salon’s owner, Eric Carrnway, fired Cece Craig because of her sexual orientation July 25.

Carrnway denied any prejudice and said he fired Craig and Damien Givens because of their work habits and because they brought their children to work.

“It has nothing do with (Craig’s) personal lifestyle. I would have never brought her in here because I knew that about her when I hired her,” he said. “They were making a day care out of my business. They didn’t want to follow my rules or my instruction, and after talking about this for six months, it got to the point where the conversation was becoming redundant.”

Craig’s partner, Bethany Jackson, said she picketed the salon from the sidewalk on days when the temperature soared into the 90s because the firing hurt the couple’s shared income.

“I can’t let this man just do that. He can’t just do this to people and expect them not to do anything about it,” Jackson said. “It’s too hot to sit out here for nothing. This is not a game, and we are serious about what we’re doing.”

Carrnway destroyed contracts he had signed with his employees, Givens said. “What reason would he have to tear it up if he was in the right?”

Craig said Carrnway had created a hostile work environment by making defamatory comments.

“He’s a gay-basher,” she said, adding that Carrnway says “these things in front of customers — you don’t know they’re not gay just by looking at them. You could be talking to someone whose sibling is gay. Their mother or daddy could be gay. You just don’t know who you’re talking to, so keep that stuff to yourself.”

–Gerhard Schneibel