Woman heads to Supreme Court over right to wear dreadlocks at work

Chastity Jones is seeking the help of the Supreme Court to decide if a Mobile, Alabama, company discriminated against her for withdrawing a job offer when she refused to cut her dreadlocks.

According to AL.com, Jones has been fighting for justice after a Catastrophe Management Solutions manager revoked an offer of employment saying that dreadlocks “tend to get messy” and that she would have to cut them in order to move forward.

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Jones didn’t. Instead, she filed an EEOC complaint against the insurance claims processing company. She’s fought the case, stating it’s a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

But Senior U.S. District Judge Charles Butler Jr. dismissed the case in 2014, stating that the Title VII Act doesn’t protect a trait like hair. The court of appeals upheld the district court’s ruling, saying hair was not a “racial characteristic.”

“Title VII prohibits discrimination based on immutable traits, and the proposed amended complaint does not assert that dreadlocks–though culturally associated with race–are an immutable characteristic of black persons,” the court said in its order.

Jones is seeking to file with the U.S. Supreme Court and has now enlisted the help of the NAACP.

“This case raises the important question of whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace discrimination based on stereotypes relating to the protected category of race,” her filing states.

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The company CMS disagrees with Jones’ claim.

“Race discrimination is unlawful and deplorable because it conditions employment on a factor unrelated to the job and entirely outside of the employee’s or applicant’s control. In contrast, employees and applicants–regardless of race–can control their dress, makeup, and hair styling,” a motion from CMS states.

The Supreme Court will hear cases starting in October. No word on if Jones’ case will be among them.