University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name EEOC v. Catastrophe Management Solutions EE-AL-0130
Docket / Court 1:13-cv-00476-CB-M ( S.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Attorney Organization EEOC
Case Summary
On September 30, 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") brought this lawsuit against Catastrophe Management Solutions ("CMS") under Title VII in the Southern District of Alabama. The EEOC alleged that CMS violated Title VII by withdrawing an offer of employment to a black woman ... read more >
On September 30, 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") brought this lawsuit against Catastrophe Management Solutions ("CMS") under Title VII in the Southern District of Alabama. The EEOC alleged that CMS violated Title VII by withdrawing an offer of employment to a black woman when she refused to cut off her dreadlocks during the hiring process and claimed CMS's policy prohibiting dreadlocks discriminated based on race. The plaintiff sought injunctive and monetary relief on behalf of the individual who was denied a position.

On December 12, 2013, CMS moved to dismiss the plaintiff's case. CMS alleged that the plaintiff's complaint did not contain sufficient facts to show racially discriminatory intent on CMS's behalf. Additionally, CMS pleaded that it is impossible to discriminate on style choices under Title VII. On March 27, 2014, Senior United States District Judge Charles R. Butler, Jr. granted CMS's motion to dismiss, noting that no evidence was submitted in the complaint to demonstrate racially discriminatory intent, that while hair type (e.g. kinky) is an immutable characteristic, hairstyle (e.g. dreadlocks) can be changed, and that dreadlocks are not a hairstyle worn exclusively by black people. On the same day, the court issued a final judgment for CMS.

On April 28, 2014 the court denied the plaintiff's motion to amend the complaint to add expert evidence demonstrating racially discriminatory intent. On August 14, 2014, the plaintiff appealed to the Eleventh Circuit.

On September 15, 2016 Judge Adalberto Jordan, Judge Julie E. Carnes of the 11th Circuit and Judge Eduardo Robreno of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, sitting by designation, issued a judgment for the defendant. 837 F.3d 1156. On December 13, 2016, the 11th Circuit issued a revised opinion affirming the judgment of the district court, finding no evidence for racially discriminatory animus in the plaintiff's complaint and stating that hairstyle is mutable, regardless of its correlation to hair type, and therefore not protected under Title VII. The 11th Circuit opinion also noted that regardless of CMS's policy's disparate impact on black job candidates and employees, there is no disparate treatment because of the mutability of hairstyle.

On October 31, 2016 the plaintiffs petitioned for an en banc hearing. The NAACP submitted an amicus brief on December 2, 2016 in favor of the en banc hearing, but the 11th Circuit ultimately denied the petition on December 5, 2017.

On April 4, 2018, the woman who was denied employment moved to intervene in order to file a petition for writ of certiorari. The Supreme Court denied this on May 14, 2018. The case is now closed.

Caitlin Hatakeyama - 12/07/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Discrimination-area
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Discipline
Hiring
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
EEOC-centric
Direct Suit on Merits
General
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
EEOC Plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e
Defendant(s) Catastrophe Management Solutions
Plaintiff Description The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations EEOC
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filing Year 2013
Case Closing Year 2018
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
No documents currently in the collection

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