If a Company Can’t Even Accept Dreadlocks, How Could It Ever Accept Autism, Bipolar Disorder, and Other Forms of Neurodiversity?

I just came across this story about a woman who was denied employment because she had dreadlocks. I find it notable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the EEOC deemed it worth taking to the Courts back when Obama was President, but rejected my own (autism related) case under President Donald Trump. But perhaps most significantly, the story reminds me of yet another of MetLife’s dirty little secrets:

MetLife Has a “No Hats” Policy.

cute_baby_with_hat_315x210NO HATS??? That’s right, MetLife employees are in violation of the company grooming policy if they wear hats during the work day. It’s OK to wear them to and from work, apparently, but if you’re caught sporting a fashionable beret or deerstalker while working, you can be written up for violating the company’s dress code.

With the dreadlocks case, the EEOC tried to argue along the lines that dreads were commonly worn by African-American people, so discriminating against dreads was effectively discriminating against African-Americans, and the Courts rejected that approach because dreadlocks are a choice, while being African-American is not a choice.

But I think another argument could be made based on the premise that company policies against trivial stuff like dreadlocks and hats gobble up limited policy-enforcement resources that would be better invested into enforcing the company’s policies against discrimination. The idea here is that if a company is wasting its limited policy-enforcement resources on hairstyles and headdresses, then how on Earth can it hope to enforce more important policies, such as those that prohibit discrimination against, say, people with Autism, Bipolar Disorder, etc.

dreadlocks-business_woman_315x210I don’t remember if MetLife discriminates against people with dreadlocks, but I do know the company discriminates against people who like to wear hats. Perhaps if the company could be persuaded to allow hats (dreadlocks, etc.), it might subsequently become more tolerant of the neurodivergent…




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