Afro-textured hair, and discrimination law “Whose eyeing up your curls?” By Ayesha Casely-Hayford “A Black woman applying to work at Harrods was told she would not get the role unless she chemically straightened her hair...” - Source: The Telegraph online 25 January 2017, 12:01 AM. This story came out five days after Donald Trumpʼs inauguration as the 45th President of the United States. This bothered me because I wonder who saw it, did you? It is often the case with discrimination cases, the facts are so unique and particular to the individual that if that individual is not given the support and necessary platform to voice what is happening to them, it gets lost. Worse than that, treated as relatively insignificant. Was this decision of Harrods an act of race discrimination? There are, to date, no tested cases in UK employment law addressing women and their hair style choices and whether an employerʼs action to control natural afro-texture is an act of discrimination on the grounds of race. There was however a recent case in the US with a similar scenario to the Harrods case, and which went all the way to the US Appeals Court. The facts concerned a woman called Chastity Jones who on getting ready to commence employment with “Catastrophe Management Solutions” in Alabama was told by HR that her locs were against company policy since they “tend to get messy”. The Appeals court ruled that employers can ban dreadlocks at work
Afro-textured hair, and discrimination law “Whose eyeing up your curls?” By Ayesha Casely-Hayford because “racial discrimination had to be based on characteristics that donʼt change”, and hairstyle didnʼt qualify as “immutable”. Ms Jones lost her case. Are the courts missing the point? Hairstyle choices for afro-textured hair go deeper than style and aesthetics. Protective hairstyles such as dreadlocks or twists for natural hair are about well-being, health and managing hair growth. These decisions are because of hair texture and hair texture is because of race. Your race affects the shape of your hair follicles. For afro-textured hair it is not a solely stylistic matter to wear dreadlocks or put chemicals in hair to straighten it. Afro-textured hair is not the same as caucasian or asian hair, and the same approach cannot be applied. This is a fascinating area, which I hope will have more coverage so that we can keep a legal eye on the treatment of curls. Detecting where the discrimination lies is not straight forward, but we will get to the root of it. References: h t t p : / / w w w. h u f fi n g t o n p o s t . c o m / e n t r y / a p p e a l s - c o u r t - r u l e s - d r e a d l o c k s work_us_57e0252ae4b0071a6e08a7c3 https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/28/uber-uk-tribunal-selfemployed-status
Published on Jun 14, 2017
“A Black woman applying to work at Harrods was told she would not get the role unless she chemically straightened her hair...” - Source: The...