Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai LLP
Free Consultations 626-381-9261

Can your hairstyle lead to a discrimination case?

Indeed, in most white-collar professions there is an expectation of professionalism; both in appearance and how one conducts themselves. But who has the right to determine what is “professional” and what is not? This is a question decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th  Circuit stemming from a case where a job applicant was given a job offer only to have it rescinded when she would not cut her dreadlocks. 

An HR representative for the employer, citing what is being considered a race neutral grooming policy, asked the applicant if she had dreadlocks after an in-person interview. The applicant answered “yes,” prompting the representative to explain that the company would not hire the applicant “with the dreadlocks” because they “tend to get messy.” The representative tried to explain that they didn’t look messy at the moment, but expressed some concern that they would eventually be a problem.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued on behalf of the applicant. The Commission reasoned that policy was not necessarily race neutral, and it was being applied in a discriminatory manner. However, the 11th Circuit ruled that Title VII did not protect individual expressions through hairstyles, even though they may be based through the culture of a protected class.

It is expected that there will many other thoughts and opinions as the case gains more traction in daily news cycles, but for now it is an example of how employees must be wary of workplace grooming policies and how they may be applied in a discriminatory manner. 

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
    • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers
    • Top Listed In Best Lawyers | The World's Premier Guide
    • Americas Top 100 2017 | Criminal Defense Attorneys
    • AV Preeminent Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Ratings
    • Super Lawyers | Rising Stars 2018
    • Best Lawyers US News 2016
    • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 40 Under 40
    • proud fellow of american bar foundation
    • 2018 Top 100 Lawyer ASLA
    • SuperLawyers Rising Stars 2018

Have You Been Victimized?

Speak to an attorney who will fight for you.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Email Us For A Response

Pasadena Office
128 N. Fair Oaks Avenue, Suite 204
Pasadena, CA 91103

Phone: 626-585-9600
Fax: 626-577-7079
Map & Directions

Downtown Los Angeles Office (Legal Fund)
250 1st Street, Suite 1201
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Phone: 213-785-6999
Map & Directions

Free Consultations

Tel: 626-381-9261
Toll-free: 866-457-2590