Donzell Lenard says he was fired from his job at St. Louis' Energy Petroleum for refusing to cut his long hair. Lenard, a Missouri native, was only employed with the company for one month and says his religion requires his long hair.
The St. Louis resident told KMOV he worked as a fuel and lubricant distributor filling tanks of trains, trucks, cranes and other heavy equipment with gas. Additionally, he stressed he was enjoying the gig, was happy with the pay and had no issues on the job, not even when he came in with his hair down on his first day of work.
Recently, however, the former petroleum professional says he was given a sheet with new hair policies and claims his manager suddenly asked him to cut off his hair, which is currently in long locs.
“He said that if I couldn’t cut my hair, then I had to go,” Lenard said. “Their rule should have been put out there. It should not have been overlooked. You told me about every other rule.”
Lenard claims he's never tried to hide his locs and wants to know why his hair wasn't brought up during the interview process.
“Why wasn’t it brought to me then?” Lenard questioned. “Then all of a sudden you say it was overlooked. How could you overlook that? How do you overlook that I have long hair?”
Lenard, who is of the Black Hebrew Israelite faith, says that cutting his hair would go against his religious beliefs. The religion features many practices seen in Judaism and forbids men to cut their hair or beards.
According to Yahoo, Energy Petroleum has yet to release a statement about the incident. Lenard hopes the company will rehire him, although he has little faith this will happen. One man, however, believes Lenard may have reason to have a little hope about the future.
“It is not a winning case for an employer to decide they are going to challenge an employee’s actual religious beliefs,” said attorney Brian Pezza. “You don’t want to get into how often they go to church, whether they were just converted or how to they got to the belief.”
Lenard has not yet said whether he plans to pursue legal action against his former employer.
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