Ritz job applicant informed of afro hair ban says hotel apology ‘disingenuous’

Hotel claimed Jerelle Jules was sent out-of-date and incorrect grooming policy banning ‘unusual hairstyles’

A black job applicant who was told his hair was against the employee grooming policy of the Ritz has said an apology he subsequently received from the hotel was “disingenuous and lacklustre”.

Jerelle Jules, 30, from Hammersmith, West London, had made it to the final round of interviews for a position as a dining reservations supervisor at the exclusive London hotel, when he was sent the company’s employee grooming policy.

The policy, dated 2021, said “unusual hairstyles” such as “spiky hair, afro style” were not allowed. Jules said he was “shocked and disappointed” that his hairstyle was not suitable.

In a statement the Ritz said Jules was sent an out-of-date and incorrect grooming policyadding that it had offered an “unreserved apology for this error”. But according to Jules, the apology was “disingenuous and lacklustre”.

Jules, who works in corporate housing, said it was the first time he had been told he could not have afro hair for a job. He added that he declined the final interview, and that the grooming policy was an example of “corporate ignorance”.

“I want to make sure that things like this don’t happen again,” he said. “It’s about inclusivity and black professionalism.”

Speaking to Metro, Jules added: “The word afro itself is obviously indicative of Africans and after reading that I don’t feel comfortable going to the interview.

“The policy was updated in June 2021 so this is not something that was written 10 or 20 years ago. It’s a recent policy that shows a lack of awareness about being inclusive to people of colour.”

Jules said he had invited the Ritz to talk about diversity and being “open to all candidates”.

Speaking to the BBC, Andy Slaughter, the Labour MP for Hammersmith, said the hair policy was “blatant discrimination”.

“The response by the Ritz on being challenged is wholly inadequate,” he said. “They have not explained how this racist and demeaning policy came about or what they now intend to do to address its legacy,” Slaughter said.

“Mr Jules has offered to help them improve their recruitment process, which is a generous offer and one they should take up. There is no room for this type of attitude from employers.”

A spokesperson for the five-star hotel said: “The Ritz London 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.”

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