HR manager’s dreadlocks comment sparks lawsuit

An HR manager for a claims processing company allegedly made ‘racial’ remarks about an applicant’s dreadlocks

HR manager’s dreadlocks comment sparks lawsuit
An HR manager has made the news for allegedly turning away an African-American applicant for having dreadlocks.

The applicant, Chastity Jones, was applying for a customer service position and initial reports said that she had been hired pending standard background checks.

She was eventually rejected, however, after the HR manager said her hairstyle tended to get “messy” and that it violated Catastrophe Management Solutions’ (CMS) race-neutral grooming policy.

According to a report in Mondaq, CMS’s policy stated that “hairstyle[s] should reflect a business/professional image. No excessive hairstyles or unusual colours are acceptable”.

Jones approached the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to file a racial discrimination suit on her behalf, claiming that her dreadlocks were “physiologically and culturally associated with people of African descent”.

However the courts rejected her claim and found in favour of CMS, citing that hairstyles are a “mutable characteristic more akin to individual expression [than race]”. 

“They are not protected, even if closely associated with a particular ethnic group,” said the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.   

Related stories:

International HR director admits to bias 

Lloyd’s Banking Group facing lawsuit over ‘discriminatory’ pensions

Former employee sues Abercrombie & Fitch for US$35m over ‘look policy’

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