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A Black woman lost her job because of her dreadlocks, so she sued and now wants the Supreme Court’s intervention

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A Black woman lost her job because of her dreadlocks, so she sued and now wants the Supreme Court’s intervention

By Susan Johnes

A Black Alabama woman, who lost a job offer because she refused to cut her dreadlocks, is asking the Supreme Court to hear her case, dubbing her situation ‘modern-day racial discrimination.’

On April 4, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a petition to add EEOC v. Catastrophe Management Solutions to the Court’s docket; a case with serious implications for how racial discrimination in the workplace is defined.

In 2010, Chastity Jones was offered a job as a customer service representative at a call center in Mobile. Sometime after the interview, an HR manager informed Jones that dreadlocks violated the company’s grooming policy because they “tend to get messy.”

The HR manager proceeded to tell Jones she couldn’t wear her hair that way at work. Jones refused to change her hairstyle, and as a result, Catastrophe Management Solutions rescinded the job offer.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) which took on Jones’ case, had previously been denied a chance to file the petition by both the Alabama District Court and the 11th Court of Appeals.

It’s no surprise the state, which groomed both George Wallace and Jeff Sessions, is denying that this case is purely entrenched in racial discrimination.

According to Vox, the LDF argues this is what modern-day racial discrimination looks like; “sometimes subtle, yet intentional racial biases and stereotypes that make it hard for people of color to get jobs and advance their careers.”

Of course, the LDF knows better and says that race is more than a person’s biological traits and that a growing body of research shows that race is also a social construct based on shared culture and identity.

And with this argument, dreadlocks are so closely associated with Black America that any company policy banning them is a race-based policy.

The case appears to be about an African American worker’s right to wear natural hairstyles on the job. It’s also about how the US legal system defines race.

Moreover, the case is about Black women’s efforts to push back against profoundly entrenched workplace stereotypes that pressure them to adopt white standards of beauty and professionalism.

“Black women who wish to succeed in the workplace feel compelled to undertake costly, time-consuming, and harsh measures to conform their natural hair to a stereotyped look of professionalism that mimics the appearance of White women’s hair,” lawyers for the LDF wrote in their petition to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court will begin picking cases to hear during its next term, in October, and we hope Jones receives the justice she deserves.

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