When Interviewing Applicants, Don't Mention the Haircut

By William Vogeler, Esq. on April 02, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Hare today, gone tomorrow.

Sorry, late Easter Bunny joke. It should been: "Hair today, gone tomorrow."

That's because we're going to talk about job applicants and their hair. The issue is, should employers hire or fire based on haircuts?

Hair Today

Of all fashion statements, hair may say it most personally. It's not like person can just take it on and off. Off maybe; on, not really.

Anyway, hair is literally part of a person and can be singled out as a basis for discrimination. Just ask Yolanda Young, president of Justice Salon, who says a woman lost a job because she refused to cut off her dreadlocks.

"You heard right," the group says on its website. "A black person can be fired or denied employment because of their hairstyle."

Justice Salon is pushing a petition for legislation to "end discrimination against black hair." It's definitely a tangled issue, however, because there are more hair colors than races.

Gone Tomorrow

And what about the hairless masses longing to be free. What about them?

Seriously, when interviewing job applicants, employers have to use their heads (I'll be here all week.) More seriously, when it comes to illegal discrimination, the list of questions and things not to say is getting longer.

Like, what if you say, "nice hair." Is it discrimination? Sexual harassment? A lie?

Naturally -- or not -- it's really about context. What are you really saying when you make a job decision based on a person's haircut?

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