The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is suing Alliant Techsystems Inc., a Minneapolis company, for racial discrimination on behalf of a Black woman who claims she was passed over for a position because of her braids.
According to a lawsuit filed Wednesday against the company, Tyeastia Green, an African-American woman, claims that after successfully interviewing and being told she had the job, the company chose to hire a white male instead. Green says that the company’s recruiter advised her to take out her braids after her first interview to appear "more professional" in the interviews that would follow. Green initially followed the recruiter’s instructions and after the interview without the braids, Green says the recruiter told her that the company wanted to hire her and that Human Resources would be contacting her soon.
However, despite the news that she had secured a job with Alliant, the recruiter allegedly called Green back to inform her that she would need to meet with the company’s information technology director, but by then Green had replaced her braids. She went to the meeting with the braids and shortly thereafter she was told that the company decided to hire another candidate for the position.
“ATK allegedly did not think that Tyeastia Green fit its image of an IT person,” John Hendrickson, regional attorney for the Chicago district office of the EEOC, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this concern for 'image' has brought it to federal court.”
The EEOC says the company violated federal civil rights laws prohibiting racial discrimination when it rejected Green because of her race. The agency is seeking unspecified back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for Green, in addition to a court order preventing the company from discriminating in the future.