Since women are starting to embrace and love

 

Since
the widespread natural hair movement, many Black women are starting to embrace
and love the hair that grows out of their head. Unfortunately, everyone is not
socially accepting of this trend, especially employers who impose unfair
grooming standards that deter certain hairstyles in the work environment. These
standards disproportionately affect Black women, because we have kinky and
coarse natural hair and not long straight hair. The research presented in this
essay will seek to explore natural hair discrimination in the workplace, while
also noting the importance of bringing this issue to light because many are
unaware that this is a type of discrimination that occurs in the workplace.

Black
women usually give into the norm to straighten their
hair to avoid natural hair bias because people tend to view Black hair
as “unkempt”, and expect Black women to conform their hair to Eurocentric
beauty standards—long, straight tresses. This expectation negatively affects
Black women who are then forced to spend tons of money annually on frequent salon appointments to chemically-straighten
their hair, to meet work-sanctioned grooming standards. Few victims of Black hair discrimination
normally file a lawsuit against the company and dispute their experiences in
court because often times the end result is not in their favor. For example, “the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals recently ruled against a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of Chastity Jones, whose job offer was
rescinded by Catastrophe Management Solutions (CMS)”
(Gutierrez-Morfin, 2016). The court ruling stated that it is legal for employers
to choose not to hire someone because they have dreadlocks. “At the time, CMS’s hairstyle policy said that an
employee’s “hairstyle should reflect a business/professional image” and
that “no excessive hairstyles or unusual colors are acceptable” implicating
dreadlocks (Gandy, 2017).

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Conversely, the EEOC claimed that this was a
violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s Title VII, arguing that dreadlocks
are physiologically and culturally associated with African-Americans, and is inherently
discriminatory. (Gutierrez-Morfin,
2016). Yet, the reasoning behind the
court’s ultimate decision was that “traits in a person’s appearance that are
tied to their culture, but are changeable are not protected and can be used to
deny job offers” (Gutierrez-Morfin, 2016).

Similarly, the Rogers
v. American Airlines case the court’s ruling was also based on “codes that classify individuals on the basis of
socially-conditioned rather than biological differences”, which is no
surprise considering courts generally protect
employer-mandated hair and attire policies (Caldwell, 1991). The plaintiff, Renee Rogers, was an American Airlines
seasoned employee. Her job duties included, but not limited to extensive
passenger contact, including greeting passengers, issuing boarding passes, and
checking luggage. She claimed that the stigma placed on her liberty to wear her
hair in cornrows intrudes upon her rights under the Thirteenth Amendment of the
United States Constitution and discriminates against her. “She
contends that it “has been, historically, a fashion and style adopted
by Black American women” (Haley and Brown, 2002). However, the opposing
side argued that the grooming policy applies equally to members of all races,
and in their defense the plaintiff did not allege that an all-braided hair
style is worn exclusively or even predominantly by black people. Thus,
the main reason the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim, was because the
court disagreed with the plaintiff’s argument that the company’s grooming
policy pertaining to exclude braided hairstyles from the workplace only targeted
women (Yarbrough and Bennett, n.d.). Furthermore, the court stressed that the
policy was unbias and applied to both men and women. Lastly, in response to addressing
how the policy does not violate her rights of the Thirteenth Amendment, the
court stated that Title VII only pertains to certain aspects of discrimination
— race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Therefore, national origin should
not correspond with ethnic or sociocultural traits

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