Is the following a form of discrimination?

I work for a 5* resort in Phoenix. I recently thought of braiding my hair.(I am a black female) I came to work one day and another coworker had her hair braided (she is white). Lets just say she lookd 'different'. The head manager of the department did not like it. He sent her to HR. She was told that she cannot have braids. There are no rules about not braiding hair. I have had my hair in braids at the same property but nothing was said. Now we are being told that the new emp. hand book will include no braids, not even for black women. It's not a life and death situation for me, however, I question the motives of the manager.

1 answer  |  asked Dec 22, 2002 6:11 PM [EST]  |  applies to Arizona

Answers (1)

Francis Fanning
Braid discrimination not unlawful

The short answer to your question is that discrimination based upon hairstyle is not unlawful. An employer can impose reasonable dress and grooming standards, even if those standards differentiate between men and women. There have been some cases in which black men have complained about standards prohibiting facial hair because a significant percentage of black men grow beards to avoid problems caused by ingrown hairs causing follicle infections. But there seems to be no compelling reason for you to have to braid your hair. It isn't race discrimination if the employer prohibits both black and white women from wearing braids. And there is no law that prevents an employer from insisting that employees not look too "different" from the norm. I'm not sure what you meant by the comment about your manager's motives. Even if he has some prejudice against blacks or women or black women, he hasn't done anything that discriminates on the basis of race or sex (unless he's letting the men braid their hair, which I suspect is not the case). To have a case of unlawful discrimination you must show that you have been treated less favorably than other employees in the terms and conditions of employment, and that the less favorable treatment was on account of an unlawful criterion (i.e., sex, race, religion, national origin, disability or age). You don't seem to have either of these elements.

posted by Francis Fanning  |  Dec 23, 2002 8:17 PM [EST]

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