Natural Black hair styles are still seen as deviant and unprofessional in many settings, and a recent court ruling might make it even harder to fight back against discrimination.
The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that banning employees from wearing locs is not racial discrimination. In a 3-0 decision the Federal Appeals court dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Commission which argued that, "prohibition of dreadlocks in the workplace constitutes race discrimination because dreadlocks are a manner of wearing the hair that is physiologically and culturally associated with people of African descent.”
In 2010, Castastrophe Management Solutions, an insurance claims processing company in Mobile, Alabama offered Chastity Jones a job but told her that she would have to cut her locs before beginning work. When she refused, they withdrew the offer.
The HR managed claimed her locs violated the company's grooming policy, which they say is race-neutral, and employees are required to keep their appearance “in a manner that projects a professional and businesslike image.” Jones was told locs “tend to get messy."
Judge Adalberto Jordan expressed a hesitancy to expand the legal definition of racial discrimination via judicial action. He wrote in his opinion, “As far as we can tell, every court to have considered the issue has rejected the argument that Title VII protects hairstyles culturally associated with race,” he stated."