You know that it’s illegal for companies to have policies that directly exhibit racism, such as saying that no African American workers are allowed to be hired or mandating that only white workers can be considered for supervisor positions. Laws against discrimination have been on the books for long enough that modern companies would almost never consider such blatant violations.
However, it’s important to remember that some policies that are not so obviously aimed at race could still be a violation. This is especially true if the policy does not appear to be work-related in any way, showing that it’s just a way for the employer to make life harder on people of a specific race.
One example used by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a policy that forces workers to shave their beards. The EEOC notes that some African American men may be more likely to have a skin condition that makes shaving uncomfortable due to the development of severe shaving bumps. Therefore, the policy could be considered racial discrimination if it was just made because the employer knew the ramifications for African American workers would be different than they would be for white workers.
This isn’t to say that a no-beards policy can never be used. There are situations where it is necessary, due to the nature of the job. The trouble just comes when there is no connection to the job and the policy appears to be in place simply as a detriment to workers of one race, perhaps influencing them not to work there.
Those who face this subtle type of racial discrimination in Florida need to know what legal options they have.
Source: EEOC, “Race/Color Discrimination,” accessed March 25, 2016