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‘What’s Wrong with Your Hair?’: An Alabama Woman Was Fired from Her Job After Two Days Because of Her Locs. Now the Company Must Pay Her $800K

A Black woman has been awarded $800,000 after she was fired over her locs in Montgomery, Alabama.

Davita Key filed a lawsuit after she was fired from Dynamic Security after being told that she couldn’t wear her hair in locs back in 2017.

An Alabama woman won $800,000 after being fired for wearing locs to work. (Photo: Pixabay / StockSnap / 27551 images)

Key says she was hired by Dynamic Security to work at the Hyundai plant as a clerk in the mail room. During her interview, she was told that her shoulder-length locs did not violate company policy.

Related: ‘Where Is the Fairness’: Rastafarian Man Alleges Kentucky Prison Violated His Religious Rights By Cutting His Locs After Banning Black Hairstyles, Removing Black Hair Products

After beginning work on July 31, 2017, with her hair styled the same way it was during her job interview, Key claimed that after she advised a supervisor and a manager — Gloria Robinson and Maurice Chambliss — that she was pregnant and provided a doctor’s note clearing her for work without restrictions, she was informed that she could not wear her hair in locs.

Key says that despite her offering to wear a hat or change her hair, she was terminated days later and told it was because she was unwilling to abide by the HEA dress code. Her termination came after another manager, Cassandra Williams, was advised about Key’s pregnancy.

“About 10 to 20 minutes after Key gave the doctor’s note to Robinson — who had since returned to the office she shared with Williams — Williams came out of the office and asked Key, ‘What’s wrong with your hair?'” the lawsuit reads. “Williams then returned to her office without saying more.”

Key then began her training for the job but was interrupted an hour later and asked to go to Williams’ office where she was told her hair was an issue.

“About an hour into the training, Chambliss retrieved Key from the mailroom to meet with Robinson in her office. When Key arrived, Williams and Robinson began questioning Key about her hairstyle,” the suit continued. “Williams and Robinson responded that while it might comply with Dynamic’s personal appearance standard, her hair did not comply with HEA’s standard.”

Key was let go after only two days on the job and filed a lawsuit against Dynamic Security for violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 pursuant to pregnancy and race.

“When I think about my hair, that is racial,” she said. “This is my hair. It’s my race. That’s who I am as an African American woman. The texture of my hair is like this because I am African American. This is the texture of my hair, and the reason the texture is like this is because of my race.”

She added that she only filed a lawsuit as a last resort. “I did that after speaking to them and feeling like my voice was just not heard and I wasn’t taken seriously.”

Her attorney Leslie Palmer noted that federal law protects Black people from being terminated because of their hair texture.

“Wearing an afro is protected,” said Palmer. “The circuits are split as to whether dreadlocks fall into texture or style.”

More than 40 local governments and 20 states have enacted the CROWN Act, which expands protection against Black hair discrimination, but Alabama is not among them.

The jury sided with Key after a three-day trial and awarded her the six-figure judgment on March 30.

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