Companys No Dreadlock Policy Did Not Violate Title VII

October 03, 2016

A federal appeals court has held that a company’s decision to rescind an African American applicant’s job offer after she refused to comply with a race-neutral grooming policy that prohibited her from wearing her hair in dreadlocks did not constitute race discrimination.

The Company’s grooming policy stated that "[a]ll personnel are expected to be dressed and groomed in a manner that projects a professional and businesslike image while adhering to company and industry standards and/or guidelines ... [H]airstyle should reflect a business/professional image. No excessive hairstyles or unusual colors are acceptable." Based on this policy, the Company declined to hire the job applicant after she refused to change her hairstyle. The Court held that "Title VII protects persons in covered categories with respect to their immutable characteristics, but not their cultural practices." Notably, the Court refused to adopt the view proposed by the Equal Employment opportunity Commission (EEOC) that Title VII’s protections extend to practices that are "historically, physiologically and culturally associated with race."