Discrimination happens in many different ways. Recently, a Missouri employee had his paycheck withheld because he says he was discriminated against for his hairstyle.

The Missouri employee who incurred the discrimination and possible wage violation says it was because of his dreadlocks. The employee’s previous employment — at a temp agency and in fast food — did not ever comment on his choice of hairstyle, but his current employer — a convenience store and gas station — had an issue with his dreadlocks.

The employee worked as an overnight clerk at the local convenience store and gas station. The employee has dreadlocks that extend to about the middle of his neck. Technically, the employee has not been fired or had his employment terminated, but he has not been given a paycheck since the alleged discrimination began. His supervisors stated he can return to work if he cuts off his dreadlocks. The employee claims his dreadlocks do not impact his job as an overnight clerk at the gas station. It was also stated the employee had the dreadlocks when he applied and was hired by the employer.

The employer has a personal grooming policy that states employee’s hair must be neat and clean and specifically states Mohawks and dreadlocks are prohibited. While hairstyle is not one of the protected classes, the actions of the employer could fall under a wage and hour violation.

State and Federal laws protect the right that employees have to their paycheck. While the circumstances of every scenario may be different, withholding a paycheck for work that has already been completed could rise to a wage violation. If your employer has withheld money that you believe you have earned, you can and should stand up for your rights.

Source: St. Louis Today, “Should his dreadlocks keep him out of a job?” Steve Giegerich, May 4, 2012