Federal Court Says Banning Dreadlocks In The Workplace Isn’t Discrimination

African American man with locs

I

As if our country hasn’t already proven in several other ways that they support the oppression of Black people and practically deny our human right to exist, now our natural hair and how we choose to style it has become a source to target.

A young woman named Chastity Jones was hired by an Alabama insurance claims company back in 2010, but the offer came with stipulations that Chastity wasn’t in agreement with. The company, Catastrophe Management Solutions, required that Chastity cut her dreadlocks off in order to secure her position. Chastity, rightfully so, questioned the human resources team on their request, and asked them why this was necessary. The team then responded with, “they tend to get messy.” As you can imagine this didn’t sit well with Chastity, and in 2013 she filed a lawsuit in partnership with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Their case was built on the grounds of racial discrimination, citing the civil rights act of 1964. After a year long battle with the courts, they ruled against Chastity in 2014, and she appealed this decision just this past year. Recently, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 that banning dreadlocks in the workplace was not a form of racial discrimination! The logic the courts have stood by is that though dreadlocks tend to be a cultural style largely worn by Black people, they’re not an inherent characteristic of being Black.

Despite what the courts have said, it is such a clear circumstance of bias. The statement “they tend to get messy” is a glaringly obvious point of proof that this decision by the company was rooted in ignorance as if all hair can’t get messy. Regulations surrounding grooming is practically a standard in every corporate workplace, but to completely eliminate the ability for someone to choose how to style their hair is teetering on human rights. Just because one chooses to style their hair in dreadlocks does not mean they will use it as an excuse not to maintain them and keep them clean, as with anything else.