Chastity Jones is a Black woman from Alabama who lost a job offer after telling a potential employer she would not cut off her dreadlocks. According to Vox, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund added a petition to the Court’s docket on April 4 for EEOC v. Catastrophe Management Solutions.
In 2010, Jones received a job offer to be a customer service rep at a call center in Mobile, Alabama. During her interview for the position, an HR Manager told Jones her dreads violated the grooming policy of the company. Jones alleges she was told dreads “tend to get messy” and was instructed that she could not wear her natural hair to work this way. When Jones declined the order the cut off her dreads she lost the job offer.
Jones has been in a legal battle with the company for the past eight years as she says it is a case of racial discrimination. However, Catastrophe Management Solutions says the grooming policy is general and not related to race. A racial discrimination lawsuit was filed against the company by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2013. The suit claimed that Jones was denied work based on harmful racial stereotypes surrounding Black hair. However, the federal district court in Alabama dismissed the case as it sees racial discrimination as bias towards traits that cannot be changed such as skin color.
This ruling was upheld by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2016. In December of 2017, the court declined to hold a full en banc review of the case.
Jones wants the Supreme Court to rule in the case because the bigger issue isn’t the stereotypes around natural hair and dreadlocks but how the U.S. court system defines race. The definition of traits that cannot be changed in Jones opinion leaves out all the microaggressions that are used against people of color in the workplace.
“Black women who wish to succeed in the workplace feel compelled to undertake costly, time-consuming, and harsh measures to conform their natural hair to a stereotyped look of professionalism that mimics the appearance of White women’s hair,” lawyers for the LDF wrote in their petition to the Supreme Court.