Dreadlocks, tattoos, colored hair, piercing, and so on, and so forth – there’s no shortage of ingenious and gorgeous ways to express your individuality through bold and unique styles and choices these days. However, even though things like blue hair, piercing, and tattoos are widely accepted as somewhat “normal-ish”, there are still a lot of people who would happily refuse an apartment/home offer, a job opportunity, or any other type of collaboration to someone just because of the color of their hair.
If you’ve ever had to look for jobs that accept colored hair, tattoos or other similar fashion choices, you likely know how hard that can be. You can face an impressive (and depressive) amount of bigotry, passive-aggressiveness, and sometimes even outright hatred. Looking for jobs that allow dreadlocks can be similarly time-consuming and ineffective.
So, what can you do? Should you just switch your hair back to work-appropriate hair colors and style? Or are you going to clench your teeth and march in to find the dream job you want and deserve?
Is denying you a job based on the color of your hair a form of discrimination?
Unfortunately, the quick answer here is “No”. According to the U.S. law:
“Employers are legally allowed to create and enforce grooming and appearance codes of conduct. However, these must not specifically target a protected class and the rules must relate directly to the job.” according to Goldman & Ehrlich – a Chicago-based employment law firm.
In other words, if your hairstyle or color is in some way a vital part of your protected ethnic heritage or of your part in another protected group, then employers will not be able to discriminate you based on that. Unfortunately for people with dreadlocks, this particular hairstyle has been quite popular in a lot of different cultures throughout history – from the Norse, through the Greek, all the way to Southern Africa, so they do not belong to a single group of people.
Another component of the law is that the employer is allowed to discriminate based on your hairstyle or color only if they are directly related to the job – if you are applying in a call center, for example, you cannot be denied the job on the basis of your hair color as it would be 100% irrelevant to the position.
Still, in most cases, all these considerations end up being irrelevant as most employers can cite other reasons for denying your application even if the main reason was your hair color or style.
Jobs that allow colored hair and unconventional hairstyles
Ok, let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular types of job that typically allow people with unnatural hair color in the workplace. Keep in mind, of course, that a lot of these suggestions are still on a case-by-case basis. An individual establishment may still refuse to hire you because of your hair’s style or color and that’s their right. The fact that other establishments from this niche are more accepting doesn’t mean that every one of them will meet that mark.
Similarly, don’t use the list below as something complete and categorical – not only are there plenty of other jobs and career paths that are bound to start being more and more accepting, but sometimes you’ll be able to find a job or a career even in a niche that’s usually not very accepting.
Still, without further ado, let’s take a look at the most accepting and popular niches where people with colored hair and dreadlocks can apply to and get jobs without their appearance being an issue:
- Tattoo artist
- Persona trailer
- Alternative style clothing stores
- Vintage/thrift stores
- Hairdresser/salon assistant
- Call center employee
- Video game/music store employee
- Software developer
Companies that are well-known to be accepting of people with colored or stylized hair
As we mentioned above, it often doesn’t matter if a niche is viewed as “generally accepting” or “generally not accepting” – there will always be exceptions going both ways so it’s important to do some research before applying for a job and make sure that the company you’re going to send your CV to indeed doesn’t mind people with more alternative outlooks.
To help you out a bit more, here’s another quick list with some companies in the U.S. that are well-known for their accepting policies toward people of all hairstyles and colors:
- Hot topic
- The Home Depot
- Sally Beauty
There are many others, of course, but these are some of the bigger ones. Whichever niche you’re looking for a job in, do yourself a favor and research the individual companies before applying – this will give you a very good idea of where there’s no point trying, where you should try extra-hard, and where you have an actually good chance of being offered a job.
Jobs that typically don’t allow colored hair and unconventional hairstyles
Just like there are niches that don’t usually have any problem with people with colored hair or dreadlocks, there are niches that are traditionally uncomfortable with such alternative styles. This doesn’t mean that you absolutely cannot find a job in these niches but it does mean that it will be extra tough. Here’s a quick list to keep in mind:
- Hotel employee
- Flight attendant
- Administrative assistant
- Government employee
- Law enforcement officer
- Military positions
- A health care professional
- Store manager in a non-alternative niche
Hopefully, more and more of the prejudices and bigotry in society will break and people will stop viewing simple things such as dreadlocks, tattoos, or dyed hair as something “problematic”. It may still be quite some time until then, however, so we’re probably in for more waiting.