Jobseeker withdraws from interview at The Ritz because 'afro hair wasn't allowed'

An MP said he had rarely seen a policy that was "so discriminatory", as our Senior Correspondent Ronke Phillips reports.

A jobseeker withdrew from an interview at The Ritz Hotel on London's Piccadilly because guidelines suggested afro hair 'wasn't allowed'.

Jerelle Jules made it to the final round of interviews but then read the rules for staff personal presentation.

He discovered the five star hotel had a grooming policy which banned what it called 'unusual hair styles' - such as spiky hair and afro style.

Jerelle said the rule put black people at a disadvantage.

"My concern is that it makes us feel like it's hard to get into jobs like this and we are therefore not seen as equal or what's deemed as professional and acceptable for us is not translated into the professional arena," he told ITV News London.

Jerelle acknowledged a luxury brand like The Ritz has certain expectations when it comes to dress code, but he insisted this case was different.

"I think those metrics can be deemed in other ways such as talking about length of hair, they said perhaps to be clean shaven," he said

"All of those things I'm OK with. But to ostracize people with afro hair, that's the part I find concerning," Jerelle added.

Labour MP for Hammersmith Andy Slaughter said he had rarely seen a policy that was "so discriminatory".

He said: "It is so blatantly aimed at people on the basis of their appearance and race, making judgements about them not on their ability to do a job but on who they are - it's utterly shocking."

Race is a protected characteristic under the 2010 Equality Act which means people should not be discriminated against because of their hair or hairstyle if it is associated with their race or ethnicity.

"I think the Ritz case is a really good test case study for all employers to say 'how are we doing?'

"Do we understand the law and applying the law correctly and do our staff understand how afro hair should be included in everyday workplaces," said Michelle De Leon, organiser of World Afro Day.

In a statement The Ritz hotel said it "does not condone discrimination of any form and we are genuinely committed to fostering an inclusive and non-discriminatory environment for all of our colleagues and guests."

Despite reports to the contrary Jerelle said he has not had any direct apology from The Ritz.

He turned down the request for a final interview but said he was willing to work with the hotel on improving inclusivity if they contact him.

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