pretty black woman looking into the camera

Here’s a legal ruling that looks to have an immediate and negative impact on a lot of folks … Black and non-Black, for that matter. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 that banning employees from wearing their hair in dreadlocks is not a form of racial discrimination.

The legal ruling grew out of a lawsuit, filed in 2013, that was brought to the court of appeals by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC represented Charity Jones who charged that Catastrophe Management Solutions, an Alabama insurance claims processing company had discriminated against her in 2010 when she applied to work for them.

Jones was initially offered a job, but was told that she would have to do away with her dreadlocks based on the company’s grooming standards which stated that dreadlocks “tend to get messy.” The end result was that Jones refused to change her hair and company withdrew their hiring offer.

The EEOC’s position was” “prohibition of dreadlocks in the workplace constitutes race discrimination because dreadlocks are a manner of wearing the hair that is physiologically and culturally associated with people of African descent.” The EEOC even went so far as to say that “if a white person chose to wear dreadlocks as a sign of racial support for her Black colleagues, and the employer applied its dreadlocks ban to that person, she too could assert a race-based disparate treatment claim.”

Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan, who wrote the appellate opinion, wrote that it was true that the definition of race could shift over time but that the court was not prepared to blaze a new path that they were not sure the law covered.

“We would be remiss,” he wrote, “if we did not acknowledge that, in the last several decades, there have been some calls for courts to interpret Title VII more expansively by eliminating the biological conception of ‘race’ and encompassing cultural characteristics associated with race.”

“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.”

An EEOC spokeswoman told Law Blog: “We believe the court was incorrect when it held that the employer’s actions could not be proven to be race discrimination. We are reviewing our options.”

Read/learn MORE at WSJ.com.

Photo: ThinkStock

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6 thoughts on “Banning Locs In The Workplace Ruled Non-Discriminatory

  1. How is the woman’s hair in the picture a problem? Im not going to wear a weave or a chemical process to straighten my hair. So what am I supposed to do. I guess not be black. I don’t aspire to be a white woman so I guess I will have to find other means of employment.

    • They didn’t say anything about not being able to wear natural hair. They said they didn’t want dreadlocks worn in their establishment. Every business owner has the right to decide the aesthetic of their business. If the company’s ideals don’t jibe with yours, find one that is a good fit, not try to force the company to conform to your wishes. Live and let live.

  2. I would not hire anyone with piercing in their face, dreds, tattoos or men with French braids; and definitely not anyone with red, blue, green color hair etc…

  3. hoodtechie on said:

    Until we own our own companies we will have follow the rules and standards. How would you feel if you owned a company and someone applied for a job with earrings in their nose, lip and eyes or someone with a full tattoo on their face? Image is everything in corporate America. Either get use to it or start your own business or company

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