In the majority of situations, it is illegal to discriminate against an applicant for a job based on the way they look. Many times not hiring someone based on their looks can be a subtle (or not so subtle) form of discrimination. A recent lawsuit evaluated whether wearing dreadlocks could be considered prohibited race discrimination. In this instance, the court determined that not hiring someone because they wore dreadlocks is not prohibited race discrimination. In explaining its ruling, the court noted that where negative employment action – such as refusing to hire someone – is based on a “mutable” or changeable attribute, the employer is within the law. However, where negative action is taken based on a physical attribute that cannot be changed, the conduct may be considered discriminatory. Hence in its opinion, U.S. Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan explained …” discrimination on the basis of black hair texture (an immutable characteristic) is prohibited by Title VII, while adverse action on the basis of black hairstyle (a mutable choice) is not.”
This ruling has created a substantial amount of public backlash, and will potentially face appeal. If you have questions, or believe that you have been wrongfully discriminated against, it is important to determine your right and take immediate action. For more information, please contact the experienced Atlanta employment attorneys at Buckley Beal, LLP for an immediate consultation.