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No haircut, no job: Was it discrimination?

by on
in Hiring,Human Resources

A jury will decide whether Wackenhut Inc. discriminated against Lord Osunfarian Xodus when the security firm turned him down for a security guard position. Xodus, a Chicagoan who practices Rastafari, claimed he lost out on the job after he refused to cut his dreadlocks for religious reasons.

Xodus said he told Wackenhut managers about the religious significance of his dreads when he interviewed for the job. Wackenhut maintains no discussion of religion occurred and Xodus was simply denied the position because he refused to cut his hair to comply with company policy.

Both sides filed motions for summary judgment, but the federal district court for Northern Illinois denied both motions, ruling that a jury should determine whether religion was discussed.

Note: Employers would be wise to maintain records of hiring interviews. Usually, this means contemporaneous notes by the person who conducts the interview. That way, you’ll have a record that will probably be more plausible than the applicant’s memory. If you use some sort of recording device, obtain the applicant’s consent to be recorded—and check with your attorney to make sure your actions do not violate wiretap and privacy laws. 


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