The EEOC has sued the Grand Central Partnership (GCP)—the business-improvement district association for Midtown Manhattan—claiming it refused to accommodate four security guards who wear dreadlocks as required by their Rastafarian religious beliefs.
Deon Baily, Brian Lee, Milton Marcano and Frantz Seraphin claim they were repeatedly reprimanded for violating the GCP’s personal appearance policy, which requires employees to tuck long hair under baseball caps. The employees pointed out that their dreads would not fit under the caps, and asked if they could tie their hair back instead.
Davis Roskin, speaking for the business-improvement district, said the “lawsuit is surprising since it comes on the heels of a previous accommodation by GCP, in consultation with union representatives, to furnish custom-made larger hats for use by the employees named in this lawsuit.”
The EEOC contends that solution doesn’t pass the giggle test. Assuming that dignity is at least part of the objective, it argues that a security guard with a full head of dreads pinned up under a supersized, custom ball cap looks ridiculous compared to the same guard in a normal hat with his dreadlocks tied back.
The court will decide whether the latter option poses an undue hardship on the GCP.