Catastrophe Management Case Summary

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Chastity Jones, an African-American and the defendant in this case, was denied a job offer due to her appearance. Catastrophe Management Solutions, located in Mobile, Alabama, announced that it was seeking candidates with basic computer knowledge to work as customer service representatives. Ms. Jones completed an online employment application, and was selected for an in-person interview at a later date with other applicants. Ms. Jones arrived dressed in a blue business suit with her hair in short dreadlocks. She interviewed with a company representative to discuss the qualifications of the position, then Ms. Jones and other selected applicants were bought into a room with CMS’s human resources manager to be informed they were hired for the …show more content…

For example, utilizing an employment test and getting results that eliminate African Americans from consideration disproportionately is disparate impact. In this case the EEOC proceeded on a disparate treatment theory only and did not pursue a disparate impact theory. This is important and courts must distinguish between the two because they are not interchangeable. E.E.O.C v. Joe’s Stone Crab, Inc., 220 F.3d 1263 1283 concluded that if you allow a plaintiff who alleged disparate impact to assert a disparate impact claim it “would unwisely conflate the distinct theories of disparate impact and disparate treatment.” In a disparate treatment case the question is whether the protected trait motivated the employer’s decision to not hire. A disparate impact claim targets an employment practice that has an adverse impact on protected groups, but is not necessarily deliberate. At times in this case the EEOC confounds the two arguments by making disparate impact arguments in support of disparate treatment claims. For example, a few of the claims asserted by the EEOC include that the grooming policy fails to acknowledge “the critical disadvantage at which the dreadlock ban places Black applicants” and “the people most adversely and significantly affected by a dreadlock ban are African-Americans”. It …show more content…

An immutable characteristic is any sort of physical attribute which is perceived as being unchangeable, entrenched, and innate. A mutable characteristic is something which can be easily altered. The distinction between mutable and immutable characteristics is a fine line, but it is one the courts have drawn. The EEOC argues that dreadlocks form naturally in a person’s hair, and the term is nothing but slang that originated during the slave trade. They state “texture of hair has been used as a determiner of race” and “dreadlocks are a racial characteristic, just as skin color is”. They also allege that when black people display their hair naturally, rather than straightening it, they are stereotyped as not being team-players. However, the EEOC’s complaint did not allege that dreadlocks themselves are an immutable characteristic of black persons. They state that dreadlocks “are a manner of wearing the hair that is physiologically and culturally associated with people of African descent.” It is important to remember that Title VII protects persons in covered categories with respect to their immutable characteristics, but not their cultural practices. Based on the argument presented by the EEOC, and by analyzing past court cases that have dealt with hairstyles, it is safe to assume the immutable characteristic argument is not persuasive

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