The Obama administration — more solicitous of dreadlocks than of religion

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is charged with combatting certain forms of employment discrimination. Unfortunately, it long ago became, instead, a special pleader for certain minority groups. As such, it is dedicated to arguing for pretty much whatever certain minority groups want in the workplace.

For example, some blacks like to wear dreadlocks. Thus, the EEOC claims that grooming codes, applicable to all employees, that include a prohibition against wearing dreadlocks on the job constitute racial discrimination.

A federal district court in Alabama is the latest court to reject this claim. The employer, Catastrophe Management Solutions, hired an African American, Chastity Jones, on condition that, pursuant to its grooming rules, she cut off her dreadlocks. When she refused, it withdrew the offer. The EEOC sued, claiming racial discrimination.

The court made short work out of granting the employer’s motion to dismiss. It ruled that federal anti-discrimination laws protect Americans from discrimination “on the basis of immutable characteristics, such as race, sex, color, or national origin,” not on the basis of traits such as hairstyle that the individual can control.

Trying to evade this logic, the EEOC urged that it entails a “construct of race [that is] far too narrow” inasmuch as “dreadlocks [have] socio-cultural racial significance.” The court wasn’t buying it.

As the Wall Street Journal’s Mary Kissel put it, this sort of argument from lefty sociology might win applause in an African-American studies seminar, but it doesn’t impress in federal court — at least not yet. Plaintiffs have suffered defeat after defeat in these kinds of “hair” cases.

Sadly, the Obama administration is so solicitous of the non-religiously based grooming desires of African Americans that it clings to its frivolous theory of employment discrimination. At the same, the Obama administration has so little respect for the sincerely held religiously based beliefs of Christians that it’s prepared to penalize believers who dare to follow their beliefs in ways that inconvenience the government.

You would think that the First Amendment protects grooming rights, not religious freedom.

Another amendment, the Fourteenth, has been interpreted as calling for special judicial scrutiny of economic regulations that adversely affect “insular minorities.” The footnote that gave rise to this interpretation mentioned “particular religions. . .or racial minorities.”

These days, African-Americans are still a minority but, as a vital element in the Democratic coalition, they are hardly “insular.” Serious, religiously observant Christians may or may not be a minority, but they are becoming more “insular” by the day — or will if the left has its way.

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