The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has unanimously ruled that companies can legally ban, fire and not hire employees for wearing their naturally grown dreadlocks.
Yes, you read correctly. Last week, while we were debating Marc Jacobs’ runway locs, the federal appeals court dismissed a lawsuit about real dreadlocks that cited racial discrimination after a company refused to hire an Alabama woman when she refused to cut off her locs. The suit was brought forth by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of Chastity Jones who was told that locs “tend to get messy” and are not dress code approved.
[SEE ALSO: 15 More Natural Hairstyles For The Workplace]
In the lawsuit, the EEOC argued that the “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.”
However, Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan, rejected the argument that employment law protects hairstyles culturally associated with race stating that it only protects skin color and fixed traits.
“We would be remiss 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,” wrote Jordan in the ruling. “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.”