In a world where Black people can be under attack for pretty much anything—from wine tours to golfing—they turn to their communities and federal courts for help to fight racism.
An African-American woman who wasn’t hired for a job because of her dreadlocks has now petitioned the Supreme Court, AL.com reported Monday. Catastrophe Management Solutions, an insurance claims processing company in Mobile, Alabama, rescinded a job offer to Chastity Jones after she refused to change her hair at a human resources manager’s behest in 2010. She was told by the manager that dreadlocks “tend to get messy.” After the ordeal, she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, who filed suit on her behalf in 2013.
The company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the EEOC complaint said. It was a clear case of a manager putting her dreadlocks on lockdown.
Jones’ concerns over racial discrimination, however, were not affirmed by the courts. A senior U.S. district judge dismissed her case in 2014. The EEOC appealed to the 11th Circuit of Appeals on the grounds that dreadlocks were a “racial characteristic,” but the appeals court agreed with the district judge.
She has petitioned the nation’s highest court without the help of the EEOC, asking justices to consider her case during their next session in October. But her case, of course, is far from the only one to challenge the nation’s courts on racism.
Randy Freeman, a veteran and motor coach owner, recently filed a federal suit against Cracker Barrel. A manager for the court-themed restaurant and gift store chain in West Virginia kicked Freeman out of the establishment for sitting while Black. The man had ordered food before the manager and assistant manager asked him to leave.
Also, the two men who had the cops called on them at a Philadelphia Starbucks could also choose to take their case to a federal court. Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson have the option of bringing a civil rights claim under federal law for violating their Fourth Amendment rights, Thomas R. Kline, an attorney who has brought high-profile lawsuits against major companies, told the Legal Intelligencer.
The courts can wield their power to deny or affirm legal racism. However, they won’t be able to effectively shift society’s behavior if there is no fix for the many deep problems that exist within the criminal justice system.