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Faces of DFEH

Read real-life stories about how DFEH is protecting and enforcing the civil rights of all Californians.


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DISCRIMINATION BASED ON RACE – HAIRSTYLES

James Dickens

What was your experience that led you to seek out help from CRD?

I went into a job interview, seeking employment. At the time I was working weekends. Part time. And I needed full time work. I was offered the new position in person and had to quit my current part time job. I informed my current manager that I was leaving the part time position to take this fulltime job. The following day I received an email from my future employer stating that I would have to cut my hair to accept the new position. My hair was tied back, neatly out of my face, and it was not mentioned in person when I was offered the position. However, the hiring manager said that it was “company policy” and referred me to the company policy book that stated that my hair could not be a certain length. My hair did not surpass that length. I decided to reject their proposal to cut my hair to take that position.

How did that experience affect you?

It affected me mentally and financially as I was now unemployed. Also, I feel that corporations in general want African American employees to look a certain way that is not natural. My qualifications were enough to get me the job, but my hair still said that I was too Black for them, is my guess.

What do you want people to take away from your experience?

I want people to know you do NOT have to change yourself and succumb to another’s unfair policy just to get a check. Know your worth and know the law.

What do you want people to know about discrimination?

That it is very real and can happen to anyone because racism and discrimination are taught and learned. It is not a natural feeling. The world is full of discrimination and people will look for any reason to put others down, to lift themselves up.

How was your experience with CRD?

My mother told me about CRD. It was a great experience, very timely. The process was a lot faster than I had anticipated, especially for the location I am in. I’m sure the CRD has thousands of cases. So, for them to seek what’s right for me at no cost to me, reminds that there are genuine people who want to help others. That’s what the world needs, people that genuinely want to help others. By the way, I got a new job and didn’t have to cut off my hair.


Communication Center: 800-884-1684 (voice), 800-700-2320 (TTY) or
California's Relay Service at 711 | contact.center@dfeh.ca.gov