Job candidate says Ritz’s Afro hairstyle ban was throwback to grandparents’ era

A job applicant at The Ritz who was sent a grooming policy banning ‘Afro-style’ hair has said the language used in the document was like ‘something out of the 70s’. 

Jerelle Jules initially pulled out of the process over the ‘discriminatory’ policy, which reminded him of the employment barriers his grandparents faced when they came to the UK.  

He also told GMB this morning how The Ritz called him and informed him that the rules had been approved by a Black hairstylist — which he described as a ‘token’ gesture.  

Mr Jules, 29, previously told how he was ‘shocked and disappointed’ after reading the policy, which the hotel later said was out of date and sent in error.  

Appearing on the ITV breakfast show, he said: ‘It was the language that was used, the language could have been non-discriminatory and said length of hair and I would have been quite ok about it, I would have been quite satisfied. The trouble is, I think to myself I’ve got daughters and now they have got to make approaches for jobs which discriminate against them before they even get into these roles.’ 

Mr Jules, from Hammersmith, West London, had been in the final round of the process for a dining reservations supervisor job when he was sent the policy, which was dated June 2021.

The rules for men and women at the time forbade ‘unusual hair styles’ such as ‘spiky hair, afro style’.   

The father-of-two previously told how he had been ‘super-excited’ to apply for a role at the world famous hotel on Piccadilly before being sent the document. He had been due to attend a face-to-face interview last week but pulled out after reading the smallprint.

The Ritz London responded by saying that the document had been sent to him erroneously and it is ‘committed to a policy of inclusivity and equality’.  

Mr Jules, who is of Black Caribbean background, told GMB hosts Richard Madeley and Ranvir Singh how he had raised the issue with the recruiters.

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He said: ‘I got a call from their PR team who decided to call me instead of the person who offered me the job and she made me aware that their Black hairstylist had looked at these documents before they’d been approved.

‘I was quite upset that they’d used this kind of token as a way of deciding that these rules would be ok.

‘My biggest concern was that this was done in 2021 and I feel like the language used was something out of the 70s, something my grandparents perhaps had to face when they came here to the UK.

‘So I felt like most companies I’ve been to haven’t had policies like this and to see something like this was quite surprising. It was quite disconcerting to me as well because I’m trying to make steps in my career.’ 

Mr Jules, who works in the estates sector, had been shortlisted for the role after having his application taken on and passing a telephone interview. 

In a letter to his MP, Andy Slaughter, he wrote: ‘As a young Black man, I have always been proud of my natural hair and consider it to be a part of my identity. However, this policy suggests that my hair is not acceptable in the workplace and reinforces the notion that Black individuals must alter their appearance to fit in with mainstream culture. 

‘The policy has had a damaging effect on me personally, as it has hindered my confidence in pursuing a career in the luxury hospitality industry. 

‘I believe that all individuals should be judged on their qualifications, skills, and abilities, not on their appearance.

‘Discriminatory hiring practices have no place in our society, and it is important that action is taken to address this issue.’ 

Mr Slaughter told that he was ‘shocked’ to learn of his constituent’s experience with what he described as a ‘discriminatory’ policy.

In a statement released last week, The Ritz London said: ‘On investigation we have discovered that an out-of-date and incorrect Grooming Policy was regrettably sent to Mr Jules. 

‘We have been in contact with Mr Jules directly to offer our unreserved apology for this error and are happy that he has agreed to reschedule his interview with us. We look forward to having the opportunity to meet Mr Jules in person at the hotel later this week. 

‘The Ritz London does not condone discrimination of any form and are committed to a policy of inclusivity and equality throughout the hotel.’  

Mr Jules welcomed the apology but said he wanted the venue to take more action to ensure its policies are ‘inclusive and non-discriminatory’. 

In the original document, The Ritz said it would ‘consider genuine requests’ for employees to dress contrary to the grooming policy for ‘religious, gender-based or medical reasons’. 

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