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Court Throws out EEOC Dreadlock Lawsuit

Posted on in Employment

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently had a setback when its lawsuit which ought to establish that dreadlocks worn by many African-Americans have a certain cultural racial significance, was thrown out by an Alabama court.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had filed a lawsuit against Catastrophe Management Solutions, arguing that dreadlocks were an “immutable characteristic” of the African-American hair identity, and that any workplace grooming policies that banned dreadlocks in the workplace, discriminated against African-Americans. The lawsuit was filed in a case in which Catastrophe Management Solutions decided to withdraw a job offer made to a job applicant who sported dreadlocks. The company asked the woman to cut off her dreadlocks, but when the woman refused, the job offer was withdrawn.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission believes that dreadlocks are part of the African-American identity, and that banning them constitutes discrimination. However, the court has not agreed that dreadlocks are an immutable characteristic. The court also stated that dreadlocks are not uniquely African-American, and that there are many non-African-Americans who wear their hair in dreadlocks.

That verdict against the Employment Opportunity Commission comes even as thousands of soldiers have signed a petition asking the White House to order the military to reconsider grooming regulations that are biased against black women. According to the new updates to the Army regulations, army-appropriate hairstyles do not include multiple braids that are more than a quarter of an inch in length and dreadlocks. Even cornrows must be uniform, the new regulations say, and must be no bigger than a quarter of an inch. The petition say that the Army has failed to take into account that for many black women, hair simply grows out, and not down. Those hairstyles are necessary for them to maintain them and groom their hair.

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