Starting a new job is nerve-wracking enough; wondering if you’ll perform well, if you will meet or exceed your company’s expectations, or if you’ll get along with your new co-workers. The last thing that anyone wants to think about, especially in the year 2013 is if their natural hair would be considered offensive, frowned upon or classified as being unprofessional in the workplace.
Twenty-four year old Ashley Davis was recently faced with just that, wearing a head full of long, honey dipped dreadlocks that she’s been growing since the age of 14. She was recently told by her employer Tower Loan, a privately-owned finance company with offices in Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois, Alabama and Louisiana, that her dreadlocks were no longer acceptable for the workplace. Ashley had only been employed with Tower Loan for approximately two months when she was advised of the new policy.
“My dreads I love them and I’m going to keep them. My hair is a part of me and it makes me the professional and bubbly person I am.”
In addition to the fact that Ashley was never advised that her locked hair style would be a problem in her initial interview, when hired, or during the two months that she was employed with the company, she was praised by upper-management for her work ethics just two-weeks prior to being notified of the new policy, which took effect only a few weeks after Ashley was hired. Ashley feels that the policy was specifically targeted toward her, as she is the only employee that wears her hair locked.
“I’ve only been there for two months, and they came up with a policy. I feel like it`s degrading,” Ashley said.
Tower Loan’s policy advised that “dreadlocks, braids, mohawks, mullets and other hairstyles,” were against company policies. Tower Loan was very adamant about their new policy, and instead of issuing an explanation or an apology, released the following statement after Fox 2 attempted to contact the company:
“Tower Loan does not comment on individual personnel matters. However, Tower has an appearance policy that is clearly defined in its training manual. Tower believes a professional appearance is necessary for the success of the company.”
What would you do if your employer mentioned that your natural hairstyle was unacceptable and went against company policy? Would you quit? Cut your hair? Hire an attorney? Do you feel the company policy is discriminatory in targeting cultural hairstyles?
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