Va. Company Settles Rasta-Hair Discrimination Suit

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ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — A Roanoke-based moving company will pay $30,000 as part of a settlement with a Waynesboro-area man who says he was denied a job because he wouldn't cut his long, dreadlocked hair.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit last year against Lawrence Transportation Systems on behalf of Christopher Woodson, who grows his hair as a Rastafarian religious expression. Woodson claimed the company denied him a job as a loader at its Waynesboro facility in May 2008.

Under a settlement announced Wednesday, the company also agreed to implement anti-discrimination policies and training and post notices at its work sites on planned compliance.

Lawrence Transportation President Ron Spangler told The Roanoke Times that the case is an example of heavy-handed government enforcement and that the company's expenses for the case likely exceeded $400,000.

EEOC's release announcing the settlement included a statement from Woodson that the decision is "validation that the American dream still exists and that one's faith does not have to hold a person back from working in a job that he is qualified to perform."

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