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By Antonioâ âRayâ âHarveyâ | Californiaâ âBlackâ âMediaâ
A Southern California company recently made a job offer to a black candidate they allegedly turned down because of their natural hairstyle.
Encore Global, which is registered in Delaware but operates in California, issued a written statement saying the issue was a “misunderstanding” and that the company “regrets any communication issues.”
âMaintaining a diverse and inclusive workplace where each individual has a full sense of belonging and feels empowered to achieve their potential are core values ââof our company. These values ââare essential to fuel innovation, collaboration and better results for our team members, our customers and the communities we serve, âthe company said in a statement.
Last month, Jeffrey Thornton, through his attorney Adam Kent, filed the allegations against Encore Global, LLC, in San Diego County Superior Court. The lawsuit claimed Thornton was denied a job because of his locs.
The lawsuit gave California’s CROWN Act, enacted in 2019, its first legal test.
Shane Harris, president of the People’s Association of Justice Advocates, called the company’s alleged action “mistreatment”, “hair discrimination” and a “violation of the State of California’s Crown Act” (Creation of a respectful and open world for natural hair). “
The filing is believed to be the first of its kind to report a violation of the California CROWN Act, Harris continued. employers and public schools to ban natural black hairstyles, including braids, cornrows and locs.
Mitchell now sits on the Los Angeles County Board of Directors.
“We regret any lack of communication with Mr. Thornton regarding our standard grooming policies – which he seems to fully adhere to, and we have made him an offer of employment,” Encore said. âWe are continually looking to learn and improve, and we are reviewing our grooming policies to avoid potential communication issues in the future. “
The CROWN Act, also known as the Senate Act (SB) 188, guarantees protection against hairstyle discrimination by extending legal protection to hair texture and styles of protection in the Jobs Act and Housing (FEHA) and the California Education Code.
Thornton said he was discriminated against during an interview for the technical supervisor position at Encore Global, an event management company.
According to the lawsuit, an Encore hiring manager informed him on Nov. 1 that he would have to cut his hair to be hired for the job. Locs were to be cut above the ears, away from the eyes, and with shoulder clearance.
Thornton’s hair is styled in a loc, shaved close to the sides and back, and is about five inches long on the top of her head, Harris said.
âMany black employees, including your staff, your members, will tell you if they have the chance that the struggle to maintain what the company has seen as a ‘professional image’ while protecting the health and integrity of their hair remains a defining and paradoxical struggle in their work experience, which is not generally shared by their non-black peers, âMitchell said in April 2019 when she first introduced the bill from the assembly. . âAny law that sanctions a job description that immediately excludes me from a job, not because of my ability or experience, but because of my hair, has had to be reformed long ago. “
Thornton’s relationship with Encore Global dates back to 2016, when he started working for the company in Orlando, Florida.
In July 2021, after being put on leave from the company for about a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Thornton decided to move to San Diego after being told his company would be opening new positions in the area. .
âI started my locs journey in 2019,â Thornton said.
“If it wasn’t a problem in Florida, it shouldn’t be a problem in California, right?” He said at a press conference in San Diego. âI expected to have to take my earbuds off, that’s okay. I would be ready to cut my facial hair. But I wasn’t ready to be told that I would have to cut my hair to meet Encore’s standards.