Posts Tagged ‘cafeteria’
EAST PEORIA — the job offer to work as a cook on the banquet line of the Par-A-Dice Casino came with two conditions and a question: Pass the drug test, pass the background check, and would she be willing to cut her dreadlocks?
after getting to the final stage of a three-stage interview process in late May, Peorian LaAngela Pointer still is dumbfounded.
she has worked in food service since she graduated from a local culinary school in 2007. she works on the buffet line of one of the Peoria area’s newest hotels and has worked in the cafeteria of a major employer. And she’s worn her hair in a variety of styles, from a short afro to braids, for each job.
“I have never been hindered by my hair,” she says.
Pointer’s shocked reaction must have sparked something in her Par-A-Dice interviewer because, Pointer says, the woman told her she thought they were beautiful. but all Pointer could think to do was ask for a copy of the appearance policy.
“I was shaken, mad, but hurt, too,” Pointer says. “I’ve never heard of anything like this.”
the Par-A-Dice prohibition on dreadlocks is not unique, said a spokesman for Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming Corp., the corporate owners of the East Peoria casino. It is part of a broad policy designed to set consistent appearance standards throughout Boyd’s 17 properties in the United States.
though spokesman David Strow was reluctant to give specific details of the company policy, he did list several examples of appearance standards required for employment. Men can’t wear beards or ponytails, and their hair can’t go below the collar. Women can’t have hair dyed in unnatural colors. Hair accessories must be kept to a minimum.
However, the company makes allowances for dreadlocks worn for religious reasons. Dreadlocks are considered a symbol of spiritual growth in the Rastafari movement popularized by musician Bob Marley. They’ve also been the subject of lawsuits filed by Rastafarians told to cut their hair or risk losing their jobs.
Pointer says her dreads complement the woman she has become at 40.
“I’ve worked hard to improve myself, worked hard not to be stuck financially,” she said. “My appearance has nothing to do with my skills.”
Appearance and grooming policies are not discriminatory as long as they’re written and applied in a manner that doesn’t obviously target a particular group, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
but if a hairstyle is largely identified with a particular group, policies against them and how they’re applied could raise questions under federal anti-discrimination laws, says Ray Peeler, a senior attorney at EEOC.
Casino employees allowed Pointer to look at the policy and gave her a number to contact Boyd Gaming Co. for more information.
but she never received copies of the appearance policy or her final application forms.
Without it, she has no way to prove what, for her, was an equally troubling aspect of the interview process.
One form started with basic questions about race and ethnicity, she says. but it also asked about skin tones.
“There was a color palette with about eight skin tones to pick from, fawn, dark, light dark,” she recalls, “and I’m looking at my arms, wondering what color to choose?”
Peeler, of the EEOC, says a question about skin tones would be a clear violation of laws that prohibit employment discrimination.
Strow, of Boyd Gaming, is more blunt.
“That’s ludicrous, beyond ludicrous. I can categorically deny we would ever raise such an issue with a potential employee.”
Pointer insists the form asked about skin tones.
“I asked for copies,” she said. “They told me I couldn’t have them because I wasn’t going to be employed because I wouldn’t cut my dreads.”
In fact, Pointer adds, the interviewer told her the application forms would be shredded to protect her confidential information.
Examples in which appearance standards may run afoul of federal laws against employment discrimination:
Height and weight: Standards for height and weight are sometimes challenged as having unlawful impacts. for example, a requirement that employees be at least 6 feet tall might have an adverse impact on Asian-American applicants because of average height and weight differences. Employers would have to prove such a requirement is necessary.
Dress: an employer can impose the same dress code on all workers in similar jobs, regardless of workers’ race or ethnicity, as long as the policy was not adopted for discriminatory reasons and is enforced consistently. However, an employer must treat racial or ethnic attire that complies with the dress code the same as other attire that complies with the dress code. for example, employers cannot ban traditional Hawaiian dress if it conforms with the employers’ dress code.
Hair: Employers can impose neutral hairstyle rules — that is, that hair be neat, clean and well-groomed — as long as the rules respect racial differences in hair textures and are applied even-handedly. for example, federal anti-discrimination laws prohibit employers from preventing African-American women from wearing their hair in a natural, unpermed style. Federal law also prohibits employers from applying neutral hairstyle rules more restrictively to hairstyles worn by African-Americans.
Beards: Employers generally can require employees to be clean-shaven. However, federal law requires an employer to make exceptions to a no-beard policy for men with pseudofolliculitis barbae, an inflammatory skin condition, caused by shaving, that occurs primarily in African-American men. No-beard rules can be enforced if employers can show the requirements are job-related and consistent with business necessities.
Source: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission