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Per the law, racial discrimination reportedly encompasses discrimination for “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.”

Thornton said he was previously employed at an Encore Global office in Florida, but he was furloughed together with other workers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In October, the plaintiff said the company got in touch with him as well as other furloughed workers about job openings. He added that he eventually secured an interview for a position at the company’s San Diego Office, per FOX 5.

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But Thornton alleges the hiring manager informed him that though his qualifications matched the role, his dreadlocks were a stumbling block. He said the company’s Florida office had no problems with regards to employees wearing dreadlocks while he worked there.

“Professionalism isn’t about fitting into Eurocentric norms. Professionalism is about competency,” Thornton’s attorney, Adam Kent, said during a news conference on November 30. “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 added that Thornton is seeking “to be made whole for the damages he has suffered.” Kent also said his client wants measures to be put in place to ensure Encore Global “is never again able to enforce grooming policies that disparately impact Black Americans.”

Responding to the lawsuit in a statement, an Encore Global spokesperson told the news outlet the company regrets “any miscommunication with Mr. Thornton regarding our standard grooming policies – which he appears to fully meet and we have made him an offer of employment.”

“Maintaining a diverse and inclusive workplace where every individual has a full sense of belonging and feels empowered to reach their potential are core values of our business,” the statement also said. “These values are key to fueling innovation, collaboration and driving better outcomes for our team members, customers and the communities we serve.”

The statement also said the company is “looking to learn and improve”, and they’re reviewing their “grooming policies to avoid potential miscommunications in the future.”

This content was originally published here.

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