“My Hair Doesn’t Affect My Working Skills”: Teen Loses New Job Because Of Her Dreadlocks

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We told you late last month that a federal appeals court ruled in a 3-0 decision that refusing to hire someone because they wear locs is not a form of racial discrimination. The decision created quite a bit of uproar online and even spurred a hashtag called #ProfessionalLocs, where people shared images of themselves at work, proudly wearing the natural hairstyle

Still, it seems that certain employers are now going out of their way to let applicants and potential employees know that their locs aren’t welcome in their particular workplace. Like a movie theater in the south suburbs of Chicago. According to WGN, 16-year-old Tyler House has had locs for five years. She applied for a job at Marcus Cinema in Country Club Hills and was called in for an interview. It went well.

“I made her laugh and she said I had a nice personality,” House said of the interviewer. “Like a week later, I got an email saying, ‘Welcome to Marcus Theatre.'”

But when House went to orientation for her new gig on Monday, she wasn’t met with a warm welcome. She was told by the theater’s manager that her hairstyle was not acceptable.

“He called my name and brought me into the hallway and said, ‘Dreads are not allowed,'” House said. “I was like, ‘Sir, I was going to put it to the back in a ponytail with the uniform hat.’ He said, ‘Male or female, any form of dreads are not allowed.’ I was just in my head, confused.”

When House returned home and shared what happened with her family, her sister posted the story on Facebook (with the hashtag, #theworldwelivein). It received thousands of likes with some people calling for a boycott of the cinema, which is in quite a few states.

When interviewed by WGN, the teen’s mother, Darnetta Herring, stated that it makes no sense for a company to say locs aren’t allowed for employees, when many of the theater’s customers wear them.

“Why is it that dreadlocks are not permitted in your employees but it’s ok for us to spend our dreadlock money in your company?” she asked. “I don`t understand. They come to an African-American neighborhood but they discriminate against some of us. I don’t understand it.”

House agreed. “What do my dreads have to do with anything?”

“Change your policy,” she said. “My hair doesn’t affect my working skills or nothing. It’s just hair.”

Interesting enough, Marcus Theatres ended up having second thoughts about this alleged policy after (which sounds more like a preference since the interviewer had no problem with House’s hair, but the manager did). They issued the following statement:

This week we learned that a job candidate at our Marcus Country Club Hills Cinema was turned away because she wore dreadlocks. Some have expressed concern, and their reaction has led us to re-examine that decision. Marcus Theatres operates in many communities across the United States, and our success is due in part to our talented team. Our associates come to work each day committed to delivering a best-in-class experience to everyone who passes through our doors. Effective immediately, no job candidate will be disqualified because they wear dreadlocks. We are in the process of reviewing our protocols, and will update them to ensure that they reflect our professional standards and commitment to recognizing the diversity of our associates.

Sounds like House can get her job back, right? Well, as it turns out, the honors student isn’t interested in working at the theater anymore. AMC, a competitor, has reached out to her for an interview.

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