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Court dismisses racial discrimination claim on dreadlock ban

On Behalf of | Sep 21, 2016 | Racial Discrimination At Work

While some people may argue that not hiring people with dreadlocks is racial discrimination, a court recently ruled that it isn’t. This decision could have ramifications in workplaces across Florida. According to the court’s decision, racial discrimination is interpreted as discrimination against biological traits, not hairstyles that are generally associated with a particular race.

The recent court case involved a woman who was hired to work at Catastrophe Management Solutions on the condition that she cut her dreadlocks off. When the woman refused to change her hairstyle, the employer rescinded the initial job offer. Alleging racial discrimination, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a claim against CMS on the woman’s behalf. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the case in a 3-0 decision.

The EEOC said that dreadlocks are a hairstyle that is associated with people who have an African racial background. One of the judges stated that no court has ever upheld a racial discrimination argument based on a hairstyle, and the court was reluctant to encompass cultural characteristics in its definition of race. The EEOC admitted that its racial discrimination allegation was not based on a biological definition of race, and a white person with dreadlocks could file the same type of racial discrimination claim.

A person who believes that an employer did not hire them because of their race may want to seek legal assistance. A lawyer may be able to investigate the employer to determine if there is a hiring pattern that is indicative of racial discrimination.