/  12.03.2021

A Black man is suing an audio and visual company after being denied employment for refusing to cut his locs — although he was fully qualified.

According to Fox 5, Jeffrey Thornton has filed a lawsuit against one of Encore Global’s San Diego locations after he was told by a hiring manager that he was completely qualified for the position, but needed to cut his hair to get hired for the job. Thornton claims that the business violated the CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Act, which prohibits employers from not hiring people based on their hairstyles. The law, which was signed in 2019, describes racial discrimination to include prejudice for “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.”

“Professionalism isn’t about fitting into Eurocentric norms. Professionalism is about competency,” attorney Adam Kent, who represents Thornton, said at a news conference. “We all expect to be judged based on our abilities and on our character, but Mr. Thornton is being told in this case that it’s different for him.”

Kent said Thornton wants “to be made whole for the damages he has suffered,” and is also asking that Encore Global “is never again able to enforce grooming policies that disparately impact Black Americans.”

Thornton previously worked for an Encore Global location in Florida, but was laid off due to the pandemic. He said his hair was never a problem there.

A spokesperson for Encore Global told Fox 5 that the company “regrets any miscommunications” with Thornton “regarding our standard grooming policies — which he appears to fully meet.” The company also said it has extended an offer of employment to him. “We are continuously looking to learn and improve, and we are reviewing our grooming policies to avoid potential miscommunications in the future,” the spokesperson said.

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