- A Las Vegas security company has settled charges brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging it violated federal law when it did not allow a Black applicant to apply for a job because of her hairstyle.
- The EEOC said in a Feb. 3 statement that it investigated the allegations and found reasonable cause to believe that Official Security violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- The two-year conciliation agreement requires the company to provide training to all of its employees on Title VII with emphasis on race discrimination and unfair hiring practices; revise its officer grooming and uniform standards policy; create a religious and medical accommodation policy; and update its website, employee handbook and memo for potential applicants.
Several states and some cities have adopted laws aimed at preventing bias in the workplace and in public places based on hair texture, type and style. California was the first state to pass the CROWN Act in 2019. Other states — Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Washington — have also signed their own versions into law. There is no similar federal law in place; the U.S. House of Representatives passed the CROWN Act (H.R. 5309) Sept. 21 but it did not receive much consideration in the Senate. The laws protect the right to wear protective hairstyles such as braids, twists and knots.
Some employers are changing their grooming and appearance policies at employees' requests. United Parcel Services in November revised its longstanding restrictions on beards and natural styles to allow a wider variety of hairstyles and facial hair because of employee requests and a petition.
Employers can enact grooming and dress standards for safety reasons, but they should figure out how to do so in a way that is inclusive and accommodates employees without compromising safety, sources have said.
Additionally, when crafting such a policy, employers shouldn't go overboard. Laura Fant, an associate in the labor and employment law department at Proskauer Rose LLP, told HR Dive in an earlier interview that "overly detailed" policies are a common error. For example, she said, if long hair poses a safety hazard in the workplace, instead of listing specific types of hairstyles that pose a risk, employers should simply state that hair must be shorter than a certain length or secured at all times.