It's Legal, Dreadlocks = Job Refusal According to U.S. Circuit Court

Woman Takes them court and loses after Alabama business reneges on job offer.

Photo by Kevin Grieve on Unsplash

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled against a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Catastrophe Management Solutions, effectively ruling that refusing to hire someone because of their dreadlocks is legal.


The EEOC filed a lawsuit on the behalf of Chasity Jones, whose job offer was rescinded by Catastrophe Management Solutions, located in Mobile, Alabama.


According to the case file, a human resources manager Jeannie Wilson for CMS, commented on Jones' dreadlocks during private hiring meeting to discuss scheduling conflicts, telling Jones, "they tend to get messy, although I'm not saying yours are, but you know what i'm talking about." Wilson to Jones that CMS would not hire her with dreadlocks, canceling the job offer.


The EEOC argued this was a violation of the Civil Right Act of 1964'sTitle VII, stating that dreadlocks are a "racial characteristic" that have been historically used to stereotype African-Americans as "not team players" and as unfit for workplace. Claiming, that dreadlocks do not fit a grooming policy is based on these stereotypes and inherently discriminatory as dreadlocks are a hairstyle "physiologically and culturally associated" with African-Americans.


The 11th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals disagree and offer this in response, ruling that CMS’s


“race–neutral grooming policy” was not discriminatory as hairstyles, while “culturally associated with race,” are not “immutable physical characteristics.”


In closing, traits in a person’s appearance that are tied to their culture but are otherwise changeable are not protected and can be used to deny job offers.


Also In the Garcia v. Gloor case, Where the employee was fired for speaking Spanish, The courts ruled speaking Spanish at work despite their employers English-only policy did violate Title VII.


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