It's perfectly legal for companies to refuse to hire someone based solely on the fact they have dreadlocks, according to an 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last week. The Huffington Post reports the incident started in 2010 when a woman named Chastity Jones had her job offer from Alabama's Catastrophe Management Solutions rescinded when she refused to change her hairstyle. A white HR manager told her dreadlocks "tend to get messy" and violate company policy, according to NBC News. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit on behalf of Jones in 2013, alleging that Catastrophe violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Last week, the Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 that it did not.
It came down to the difference between "immutable and mutable characteristics of race," Judge Adalberto Jordan wrote in the decision. In the past, courts have ruled Title VII only applies to characteristics of race that aren't changeable. "For example, discrimination on the basis of black hair texture is prohibited by Title VII, while adverse action on the basis of black hairstyle is not," Jordan writes. The EEOC argues this interpretation ignores that race is a "social construct" with "no biological definition." Jordan says the way Title VII is applied may change in the future, but his court isn't the place to do it, the Wall Street Journal reports. In the meantime, we hope Adam Duritz doesn't have to look for work anytime soon. (Here's how the military feels about dreadlocks.)