Black features and cultural practices have long been seen as “unprofessional,” especially our hair. Recently, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard a case do decide whether or not these often racialized preferences can be used by employers in hiring. According to NBCNews, the court found that it was not illegal for employers to refuse to hire someone because of their dreadlocks.
The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Catastrophe Management Solutions (CMS) on behalf of Chastity Jones, who had a job offer rescinded because of her hair. An HR manager for CMS even told Jones that “[dreadlocks] tend to get messy, although I’m not saying yours are, but you know what I’m talking about.”
The court of appeals basically found that the company’s “race-neutral grooming policy” isn’t a violation of anyone’s civil rights because, while dreadlocks are indeed a black feature, having them is seen as optional.
If this ruling stands, it will surely have a negative impact on many people who will feel unwelcome in schools, offices and many other public places for nothing more than their style of hair.