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Man with dreadlocks loses discrimination case against Gulfport

For religious and cultural reasons, Larry D. Christmas Jr. says he refused to cut his dreadlocks so he could work at the Gulfport Fire Department. A federal judge has dismissed his employment discrimination lawsuit against the city, finding no factual basis for the claims.
For religious and cultural reasons, Larry D. Christmas Jr. says he refused to cut his dreadlocks so he could work at the Gulfport Fire Department. A federal judge has dismissed his employment discrimination lawsuit against the city, finding no factual basis for the claims. FILE

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit Larry D. Christmas Jr. filed after the city rejected him as a firefighter because he refused to cut off his dreadlocks.

U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. dismissed the case at the city’s request because he found the Pascagoula man failed to back up his claim that the city enforced an official policy that led to employment discrimination based on racial or religious beliefs.

Guirola denied the city’s request that Christmas cover its legal fees.

Christmas asserted that he was offered a firefighter’s job in December 2014, but told he would need to cut off his dreadlocks for safety reasons. Christmas, who is black, refused, saying he wears them for cultural and religious reasons.

He filed his lawsuit a year later. Christmas has sued at least three previous employers for discrimination, court records show. Two of the cases have been dismissed.

Christmas filed the third lawsuit against against D&G Foods LLC of Hazlehurst on December 23 — eight days after he sued the city of Gulfport. The case is pending before U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate in Jackson.

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

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