A judge ruled that it’s legal for companies to discriminate against traditionally Black hairstyles. The U.S. Court of Appeals recently ruled in the case involving Chastity Jones.
Jones, a Black woman working in Mobile, Alabama, was told by a White person at her company that she would have to cut off her locs because they tend to get “messy.” When Jones refused to cut her locs, the company, CMS, rescinded their job offer.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against the company on behalf of Jones. the EEOC claimed that the CMS policy were racially discriminatory because, “dreadlocks are culturally associated with people of African descent.” The EEOC believe that a hairstyle can be worn as a form of racial identity.
The Alabama appeals court dismissed the lawsuit with a 3-0 vote. Judge Adalberto Jordan, a judge appointed by President Obama, argued that discrimination against hair texture is illegal. But hairstyles are not protected by the EEOC.
Although locs can be viewed as a hairstyle, the style is mostly based on hair texture. While White people can wear locs, the style is traditionally associated with Black cultural and identity. The ruling is essentially another way for companies to discriminate against Black people. Blacks are often forced to conform and shun their cultural identity when in the workplace. It’s an issue that White people rarely have to encounter.
The ruling also allows for discrimination against religion. Many Jamaicans consider themselves to be a part of the Rastafari religion. For Rastafarians, locs are considered holy, spiritual and a form of loyalty to the religion.
Judge Jordan failed to properly research and understand why dreadlocks are important to Black culture. He viewed dreadlocks as a hairstyle and ignored the cultural and religious significance. In turn, he made it legal for companies to discriminate when it comes to race and religion.