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It’s Friday again, which means it’s time for another edition of the Friday Five! Since Tuesday’s Presidential debate so dominated the news cycle this week (and I wrote about it twice), I thought I’d reach back a bit for some other stories. This week we’re reading about two EEOC cases, Richard Branson’s love of remote work, machismo in the workplace and doing a bit more economic homework in anticipation of next week’s jobs report.
Here is your Friday Five:
I’ve written about the disparity in what hairstyles are considered “professional,” but here’s an interesting case. A federal appeals court ruled against a suit brought by the EEOC. The suit concerned Mobile Alabama’s Catastrophe Management Solutions withdrawing an offer of employment after a new hire refused to cut her dreadlocks.
“The company requires employees to be dressed and groomed “in a manner that projects a professional and businesslike image.” And dreadlocks, the HR manager told Ms. Jones, ‘tend to get messy.’ When Ms. Jones refused to change her hair, the company withdrew the offer.”
While the EEOC argued that this was discriminatory, the appeals court has ruled that dreadlocks are not a right and that they are not, well, “biologically” associated with black people. Catastrophe Management Solutions’s lawyers argued that dreadlocks are a “race-neutral” hairstyle, which sent both of my eyebrows flying towards my hairline. The fact that the company’s grooming policy makes reference to “tidiness” is textbook hair-based discrimination, and I’m honestly surprised at the way this case turned out.
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Now here’s one the EEOC won! A Dollar General employee was fired for drinking a juice at before paying for it. She went to the EEOC with it and the rest was pain and misery for Dollar General, who are now paying her “$27,565 in back pay plus another $250,000 in compensatory damages.” The employee had been told multiple times that she wasn’t allowed to keep juice at her work station, despite company policy saying otherwise. Then she was fired — on the spot, it seems — for violating the company policy against “grazing,” or consuming a product before purchasing it. These two missteps have turned out to be costly for Dollar General, not just in financial penalties but in bad press.
In this increasingly connected world, you really can work from anywhere. Here's my office today: http://t.co/rBk7aTmbgi
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) January 8, 2014
Maybe you’re thinking, “oh god, NO ONE should cry at work.” Don’t worry, this piece isn’t so much advocating for sobbing at your desk as it is arguing that workplace culture could stand to be a lot less macho. Olivia Barrow wants us to acknowledge that some of our values about workplace “strength” have less to do with actual effectiveness and propriety than they do sexism, and that expressions of real emotion shouldn’t be considered signs of weakness.
As we look forward to next Friday’s BLS jobs report, WSJ is looking at other measures of economic prosperity. It’s not just about hiring, firing and unemployment claims, but about how many Americans are at or near the poverty line.
“While 13.5% of Americans live below the poverty line, an additional 18% have incomes only somewhat higher. Consider that the poverty line for a family of three is $18,850. Thus a family earning 25% above that has about $23,500 to support three people. At 50% above poverty that works out to $28,275, and 75% above the line is about $33,000. While families with these incomes are not officially in poverty, they could face pretty significant economic difficulties, especially in places with a high cost of living.”
See you next week for the September jobs report!