A job applicant is suing a Pennsylvania university for racial discrimination after she was denied an internship because she does not have a haircut to conform to “the black woman’s hair standards.” Employees at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania “maintained a policy of requiring female employees, when convenient, to have their hair styled for work in a way that is black, according to the complaint,” reports The New York Times. The student is a black woman herself and alleges that her hair choices— which she says she kept simple, short and tucked under her collarbone— was a code for rejecting her as a black applicant.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Eastern Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas late last month, is the first of its kind in the state.
The suit was the inspiration of Kristina Ray — an African-American woman who applied for an internship as an administrative assistant to the university’s president but was declined after agreeing to a regal hairstyle including a bun, ironed to perfection and tucked away by her collarbone. She later decided to sue, arguing in the court filing that the strict hairstyle policy violates federal laws prohibiting racial discrimination.
“My hair is my hair,” Ms. Ray told The Times, “and the reality is black people are continuously made to feel guilty about the way that we dress, the hair that we have, the body types that we have. I’m just fed up and I think someone needs to stand up to them.”
Others who have tried to break the rules are recently highlighted in the CBS2 report below: