The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that would make refusing to hire someone because of their dreadlocks illegal.
The lawsuit was filed against an Alabama company on behalf of a black female whose job offer was rescinded by the company because of her hairstyle.
According to the case that was filed, a human resources manager for the company made remarks about the woman's hairstyle during a private hiring meeting about scheduling conflicts. She reportedly told her, “they tend to get messy, although I’m not saying yours are, but you know what I’m talking about.”
The human resources manager told the black woman that the company wouldn’t hire her with dreadlocks, and terminated the job offer.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit, claiming the move was a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, specifically Title VII. It argued that dreadlocks are a “racial characteristic” that has been historically used to stereotype African-Americans. Therefore, claiming the style does not fit the company policy is inherently discriminatory as it plays off stereotypes that African-Americans with the style are “not team players” and are unfit for the workplace.
But the court of appeals disagreed. It ruled that the Alabama company’s “race–neutral grooming policy” wasn’t discriminatory and that traits in a person’s appearance that are tied to their culture but are otherwise changeable were not protected.
In other words, a person can be denied a job offer based on their appearance if the issue is something that can be changed.
Courts have routinely interpreted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act as one that exclusively protects against “immutable characteristics,” not cultural practices.
So it's either cut the locs or remain unemployed? What are your thoughts on this?