For more information please call  800.727.2766


San Diego Man Asserts Company Demanded He Cut His Dreadlocks

Jeffrey Thornton filed a lawsuit in a California state court alleging that Encore Global, an event management company, discriminated against him based on his race. He claimed Encore rescinded a job offer because he would not trim his dreadlocks. In 2019, California was the first state to enact the CROWN Act. CROWN Act stands for “Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair.” California’s law prohibits discrimination based on “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.” The statute expressly protects dreadlocks.

Thornton, a Black male, worked as a technical supervisor for Encore Global previously in Florida. In March, the company furloughed him because of the pandemic. In the fall, the company sent out an email about re-hiring furloughed employees for positions in the San Diego office. In his lawsuit, Thornton asserted the San Diego hiring manager said Thornton was fully qualified for the position. However, the manager allegedly said Thornton would have to cut his hair “so that it was off the ears, eyes, and shoulders, and would not allow him to simply tie back his hair in order to do so.”

The company publicly stated that it regretted “any miscommunication with Mr. Thornton regarding our standard grooming policies,” and the company was reviewing its policies to “avoid potential miscommunication in the future.” Encore has since offered Thornton a position with the company, stating Thornton “appears to fully meet” the company’s grooming policies. However, Thornton told the press that he was no longer interested in working for Encore. Thornton’s attorney suggested the parties would be meeting to discuss the issues further. This lawsuit is believed to be the first challenge under California’s CROWN Act.