McKenna on KIRO: Denied a job over dreadlocks

KIRO 97.3 host Dave Ross asked Rob about a case out of Alabama in which a woman’s job offer was rescinded because of her dreadlocks. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the business, but a Court of Appeals ruled the business did not violate the law.

Dave Ross: “So, apparently what saved the employer in this case is that the reason cited for not wanting the hairstyle is because it looked – it was sloppy.”

Rob McKenna: “Well, as other courts have said, the Equal Opportunity Employment Act doesn’t prohibit all arbitrary employment practices. It doesn’t forbid employers to [not] hire people who have hair that’s too long, or short hair, or no hair at all, or who have tattoos in places that are too visible.”

Dave Ross: “So you could tell a white guy, ‘Your hair is long and stringy, we’re not going to hire you’”?

Rob McKenna: “Yeah, I think that’s right. And as long as the rule is not directed at specific, impermissible bases for discrimination – like race, color, religion, sex, national origin – they can be permitted.”

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