Missouri teen denied job because of the length of his dreadlocks

A Missouri teen was denied a job at a local arcade because of his dreadlocks -- not for the hairstyle itself, but for the length of the strands, The Kansas City Star reported.

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Tyree Bayan, 16, had applied to work at the Cool Crest Family Fun Center in Missouri. When he went to his interview in March, he said the manager told him that his hair was a violation of company policy.

"I didn't really understand it," Bayan told the Star. "I have never experienced anything like that. My hair is something that's a part of my ancestry. It being something that a company doesn't want, I was just really sad about it."

According to Cool Crest's parent company, Adventure Landing of Jacksonville, Florida, the hairstyle was not the issue. The length of Bayan's hair was.

“For hair we require (it to be) over the ears and above the shirt collar. We also require a neat appearance, and conservative braids are allowed,” Natalie Dunlap, a marketing vice president for Adventure Landing, told the Star. “We do not have specific hairstyles we exclude. That includes dreadlocks, Mohawks, etc., as long as they comply with policy."

Bayan said he heard a different message at his interview.

“There was no mention of length or color,” he told the Star. “The manager specifically said ‘dreadlocks.’”

That infuriated his mother. RaShaun Garlington posted a message to Cool Crest that began to trend on Facebook:

"What about Dreadlocks is so offensive that you do not want any of your employees at Cool Crest FAMILY FUN CENTER to have this hairstyle?" she wrote. “He will NOT be cutting his LOCS off to conform to your racist, discriminating, policy. He is not interested in working for a company that is intentionally excluding an entire group of people based on a hairstyle that one specific race wears. I also will NEVER support your establishment again."

Bayan has a 3.75 GPA at Grandview High School and has been running his own babysitting service since he was 12, Garlington told the Star.

Dunlap, after speaking with the Cool Crest manager, said Bayan was "100 percent a qualified candidate."

“Dreadlocks, we don't care about that as long as they're above the neck in the back," Dunlap told the Star. "I think they're beautiful. But you have to have regulations. And rule of thumb is you go by those rules and you don't bend them.”

The reaction on Facebook sympathized with the teen’s situation.

"What in the world!!!! I will not be supporting your establishment anymore as well Cool Crest. You are Applebees to me!" wrote one person, referring to a February incident of racism that helped lead to the closing of an Applebees' restaurant in the Independence Center.

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"I was actually thinking about taking my multicultural family to Cool Crest next weekend. NEVERMIND AND NEVER AGAIN," another person wrote.

Some business owners responded by offering Bayan summer jobs.

"The responses and the support, it's warmed my heart to see," Garlington told the Star. “For better or worse, this is the world we live in."

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