A Federal Court Rules A Company Can Decline To Hire You If You Have Dreadlocks

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A federal appeals court just deemed it legal for companies to discriminate against potential employees if they have dreadlocks, NBC News reports.

The case was brought to light after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit for Mobile, Ala., resident, Chastity Jones. She said Catastrophe Management Solutions’ human resources manager, Jeannie Wilson, revoked her initial job offer because of her locs.

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“Before Ms. Jones got up to leave, Ms. Wilson asked her whether she had her hair in dreadlocks. Ms. Jones said yes, and Ms. Wilson replied that CMS could not hire her ‘with the dreadlocks,’” US Weekly reports. “When Ms. Jones asked what the problem was, Ms. Wilson said ‘they tend to get messy, although I’m not saying yours are, but you know what I’m talking about.’ Ms. Wilson told Ms. Jones about a male applicant who was asked to cut off his dreadlocks in order to obtain a job with CMS.”

Jones declined to cut her hair and was told to “return the paperwork” she was previously given upon hiring. The EEOC fought to present the fact that this decision by CMS was a clear violation of Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under that section, it “prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.”

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The court, however, stated that the company’s “‘race-neutral grooming policy’ was not discriminatory as hairstyles, while ‘culturally associated with race,’ are not “immutable physical characteristics.”

Recently, Iowa deemed it was no longer a crime to braid hair without a license, Forbes reports. Salon owners who failed to own a cosmetology license had the risk of facing up to one year in prison. At the time, to work legally as a hair braider required obtaining a license from a beauty school could cost more than $20,000, which wasn’t feasible for a few hairstylists in Iowa.

READ: San Francisco State University Begins Investigation Into Black Student’s Encounter With White Student Over His Dreadlocks

Earlier this month, students at South Africa’s Pretoria Girls High School protested the ban of their natural hair according to the school’s rulebook. “I have a natural Afro, but a teacher told me I need to comb my hair because it looks like a bird’s nest,” one student said. The school’s practice has been suspended.

READ: Young Revolutionaries: South African Students Protest School’s Ban On Natural Hair