Commentary

US Employers Can Now Discriminate Against Job Applicants with Dreadlocks

Discriminate Against Job Applicants with Dreadlocks

Chastity Jones was offered a job at Catastrophe Management Solutions (CMS) in Mobile, Alabama, in 2010. However, a white manager in the company’s human resources department told Jones that her dreadlocks hairstyle was against the firm’s police because dreadlocks “tend to get messy, although I’m not saying yours are, but you know what I’m talking about.” Jones refused to change her hairstyle and stated that the job offered was then rescinded. Jones complained to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which filed a lawsuit on her behalf in 2013 under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This provision of the law states, in part, that it is unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire an individual because of that individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, or to limit employees or job applicants in any way that would deprive them of employment because of the individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The EEOC suit also claimed that withdrawing Jones’s employment contract due to her hairstyle constituted racial discrimination, since “dreadlocks are a manner of wearing the hair that is physiologically and culturally associated with people of African descent.” Their statement also noted that the “hairstyle can be a determinant of racial identity.” However, on September 15, 2016, a US Court of Appeals found in favor of the decision by CMS to refuse to hire Jones because of her dreadlocks hairstyle. The court disagreed with the claim by the EEOC that the situation involved racial discrimination. The court noted that “it is no secret” that dreadlocks are a hairstyle worm by black people for many years, the hairstyle is not “an immutable characteristic of black people,” and therefore there is no racial discrimination. In his decision, Judge Adalberto Jordan stated, “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.

The EEOC suit also claimed that withdrawing Jones’s employment contract due to her hairstyle constituted racial discrimination, since “dreadlocks are a manner of wearing the hair that is physiologically and culturally associated with people of African descent.” Their statement also noted that the “hairstyle can be a determinant of racial identity.” However, on September 15, 2016, a US Court of Appeals found in favor of the decision by CMS to refuse to hire Jones because of her dreadlocks hairstyle. The court disagreed with the claim by the EEOC that the situation involved racial discrimination. The court noted that “it is no secret” that dreadlocks are a hairstyle worm by black people for many years, the hairstyle is not “an immutable characteristic of black people,” and therefore there is no racial discrimination. In his decision, Judge Adalberto Jordan stated, “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.

Source: New York Magazine

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StephanieK