Employer grooming policies are ubiquitous and apply to all in the workplace, however, the hair standards within these policies do not permit women to wear a myriad of ethnic hairstyles at work. Banning ethnic hairstyles like braids, cornrows, and dreadlocks adversely and disproportionally affects black women. Banning ethnic styles because they are deemed unprofessional forces many black women to spend inordinate amounts of money and time to ensure their hair is “professional looking enough” to attain gainful employment and climb the corporate ladder. This article examines Title VII’s role in allowing this practice where black women are not permitted to wear their hair in styles that are often the most healthy and natural for their hair, and the legal freedom employers have to fire employees for wearing dreadlocks, braids and twists with impunity. This article proposes several ways that Title VII’s application to black hair texture and hairstyles could be improved.
Are my Cornrows Unprofessional?: Title VII's Narrow Application of Grooming Policies, and its Effect on Black Women's Natural Hair in the Workplace,
Bus. Entrepreneurship & Tax L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/betr/vol1/iss2/9