Court Rules Terminating Job Offer Because of Dreadlocks is Legal


The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdictions over federal cases originating in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, recently ruled against a discrimination complaint with the EEOC, according to a recent NBC News report. NBC reports that an Alabama woman’s job offer was terminated by her employer, Catastrophe Management Solutions, because her dreadlocks did not comply with the company’s grooming policy. The EEOC alleged a violation of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and argued dreadlocks are a hairstyle that are physiologically and culturally associated with African-Americans. The 11th Circuit disagreed, finding that the company’s grooming policy was race-neutral and not discriminatory.


This is not the first time restrictions have been placed on dreadlocks. Earlier this summer a Louiseville, Kentucky school specifically prohibited dreadlocks, cornrows, and twists in its dress code.


Title VII of the Civil Rights Act


Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace discrimination based on religion, national origin, color, race or sex. This federal mandate applies to companies or employers with 15 or more employees; it includes state and local governments, as well as employment agencies, labor organizations and the federal government.


Title VII prohibits discrimination, harassment, or any other employment action based on:


  • Perception: The simple belief that a person is a member of a certain race, national origin, or religious group whether or not that perception is correct;
  • Affiliation or association: Unequal treatment of someone because of his or her affiliation with a particular religion or ethnic group, or due to the individual’s association with a person or group of a specific religion or ethnicity;
  • Physical or cultural traits and/or clothing: Accent or dress associated with a particular religion, country of origin, or ethnicity as well as harassing or discriminating based on cultural, linguistic or physical characteristics.


Title VII requires that employers provide a workplace free of harassment that is based on religion, national origin or ethnicity. If this is violated, an employer may be held liable for the improper actions of supervisors, coworkers and non-employees under their control.


Let an Attorney Help

It is important for you to know your rights under the law, and know that no one should face the legal system alone. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, do not hesitate to contact a knowledgeable attorney right away to explain your rights and obligations under state and federal laws as well as guide you through every step of this process.