It’s Now Perfectly Legal to Discriminate Against Employees If They Have Dreadlocks

Black woman with dreadlocks bun

It’s Now Perfectly Legal to Discriminate Against Employees If They Have Dreadlocks

#TeamNatural beware.

Published September 23, 2016

Another day, another attack on natural hair. And this time, it’s the American justice system picking the fight. 

According to NBC News, the 11 Circuit Court of Appeals court ruled against a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) saying that it’s legal to refuse to hire someone because of their dreadlocks. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Chastity Jones, who said her job offer was rescinded by Catastrophe Management Solutions after they saw her hairstyle in person.

The case file noted that during a private hiring meeting with Jones, CMS’s HR manager told her upon seeing her hair, “They tend to get messy, although I'm not saying yours are, but you know what I'm talking about.” Soon after, Wilson told Jones they couldn’t hire because her dreads were in violation of company policy.

Instead, the EEOC said the Alabama-based company were the ones in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964's Title VII and argued in court that dreadlocks are a “racial characteristic” and have been used to deem African-Americans in the workplace as not being team players or being unfit, NBC noted. Not only that, but Jones’s lawyers stressed that her hairstyle is culturally Black and to ban it in the workplace would be racial discrimination, which is illegal.

But the court didn’t agree, stressing that CMS's grooming policies were “race-neutral” and while hair can be cultural, it’s not an “immutable physical characteristic.”

“As far as we can tell, every court to have considered the issue has rejected the argument that Title VII protects hairstyles culturally associated with race,” said judge Adalberto Jordan, who handed down the final decision.

Sigh. 

Whether it’s a navy officer being given her pink slip, a child being sent home from school or a student being kicked off the cheerleading team, this court ruling sadly highlights the fact that Jones isn’t the first, nor will she will be a last, to be punished for what naturally grows out of her head.

Written by Kellee Terrell

(Photo: Peathegee Inc/Getty Images)

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