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Dreadlocks are a legal basis to deny employment

Job seekers in Texas should be aware of a court ruling regarding a dreadlock ban during the hiring process. According to a decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which ruled against the lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against an employer, the refusal to hire an individual because he or she wears dreadlocks is legal.

The EEOC filed the lawsuit on behalf of a woman whose job offer was rescinded by a company located in Alabama. Based on information from the case file, a human resource manager for the company commented on the job applicant's dreadlocks during a private hiring meeting to discuss scheduling conflicts. The applicant was advised that although no reference was being made to her hair, dreadlocks tended to get unkempt. The human resources manager advised the applicant that the company would not employ her with the dreadlocks and terminated the job offer.

The EEOC claimed in its suit that the rescinded job offer based on the applicant's hairstyle was a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as dreadlocks are a racial characteristic that has been used in the past to typecast black Americans as unfit for the workplace. The court disagreed and indicated with its ruling that while traits in a person's appearance may be tied to their culture, if it is changeable, it is not a protected characteristic and can serve as a basis to deny job offers.

Workers who experience discrimination on th ejob may have legal recourse. An attorney who practices employment law may file a complaint with the appropriate federal agency if a client's civil rights were violated. Back and future wages may be obtained for individuals discriminated against in the workplace because of their race, age, or disability.

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