A True Hero!

Check out this link about a Buffalo bus driver, who saved a woman from jumping off a bridge to her death. What a kind spirit!!!



A Hairy Situation: Can You Be Fired For Your Hair?

A Hairy Situation: Can You Be Fired For Your Hair?



Is my hair distracting?               Image   

This week, stories emerged about a woman who is in danger of losing her job at an insurance company for wearing dreadlocks.  In a related story several months ago, a little girl was sent home from school for wearing dreadlocks.  The common theme in both of these stories? The powers that be deemed the hairstyle to be somehow distracting or unacceptable.

Ashley Davis, from Missouri, was told that due to a change in company policy, she would have to cut her dreadlocks.  She was hired with dreadlocks, but several months after her employment, the company policy changed to say that “dreadlocks, braids, mohawks, mullets and other hairstyles are against company guidelines”.

7 year old Tiana Parker was forced to leave her school due to their ban on dreadlocks.  The school’s policy stated that “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks, and other faddish styles are unacceptable.” Her situation is different, since the policy was in place at the time of her enrollment.  Still, this is a reflection of a refusal to accept a hairstyle of a particular culture.

To give some perspective, removing your dreadlocks is not a simple process.  As Ms. Davis stated in her interviews, she had been growing her dreadlocks for over 10 years, and it is a part of her identity.  Additionally, due to the permanent nature of the hairstyle, it would basically require her to shave her head, and regrow her hair.

From a legal perspective, there are several issues in Ms. Davis’ case.  The company hired her, then subsequently changed their policy; in light of this, a grandfather – type clause should have been applied, in which current employees would be exempt.  Can the company’s policy be considered to be racially discriminatory? Yes and no.  Yes, because it is clear that hairstyles that apply to a certain ethnicity (dreadlocks and braids are generally worn by persons of African descent) are targeted by the policy.  However, on the other side, the policy also targets mohawks and mullets.  Interestingly, mullets and mohawks are not usually worn by folks seeking to work in corporate America.  It had its day when the song “Achey Breaky Heart” was popular, but not so anymore.  So to be practical, the wording of this policy directly targets persons of color…but is cleverly worded to avoid discrimination claims. A good lawyer wrote this policy; but a good lawyer may be able to bring the policy down.

On a day to day level, these policies are a result of ignorance, fear, and a tinge of racism.  There is a perception that dreadlocks = drug dealer, hoodlum, or filth.  This is simply not true.  Dreadlocks have a long history, and quite bluntly, is an easier hairstyle to maintain as opposed to putting a myriad of chemicals in your hair on a regular basis (which is the other option to create the look of straight hair).  As an attorney, I choose to wear my hair in dreadlocks.  I try serious cases, including homicide cases.  Depending on the occasion or trial, I wear my hair in a bun, or a tight ponytail.   What style your hair is in should not matter as long as it is clean, maintained, and professionally styled for the environment you work in. 

Can you be fired for your hair? Yes.

Should Ashley Davis sue her employer? Absolutely.  

Will she win? Maybe not. But it is the principle…and a way to open employers’ minds.

Weigh in below and tell me what you think!

Melba Pearson is an attorney, writer, speaker, wife and Resident Legal Diva.


“Do The Right Thing”: 25 Years Later


The iconic movie by Spike Lee, “Do The Right Thing”, turns 25 this week.  At the time, it was a shocking, in your face portrayal of racism and a city divided.  For me, it was a coming of age movie, and was the backdrop for me beginning my journey into the criminal justice system. I believe the messages in this movie are as relevant today as they were 25 years ago. Yes, our President is African American; but in some ways we as a country are more divided than ever.  Here’s a great article about “where are they now”. Please share your memories of the movie and politics in the late 80’s!


Online Confession Case Ends with 6.5 Years Prison….



Matthew Cordle, who made headlines with his YouTube confession to DUI manslaughter, received a six and a half year sentence today. He was facing a maximum of eight and a half years.

I originally published this article back on September 16, 2013, but I think it bears repeating.  The original link is at 


Enjoy, and tell me what you think!!

Online Confessions: Ego or Guilt?

This week, an Ohio man was charged with DUI manslaughter by prosecutors.  He had released a video online confessing to killing of a man while driving drunk. This viral-video hit the internet on September 3, 2013, and very quickly became a topic of controversy.

In August, a South Florida man killed his wife, and then posted the pictures of her dead body on Facebook. In his status update, he made reference to her hitting him, and that he hoped others would understand what he did. 

We all heard how the texts and pictures taken in the Stubenville, Ohio rape case helped show what happened to the victim, and resulted in a guilty verdict.

Online confessions are great for a prosecutor. It’s solid evidence, especially when linked to the physical evidence (like DNA, weapons, or fingerprints) and eyewitness testimony to a crime. It’s the defendant, front and center, admitting to his or her actions. As long as the video can be verified as coming from the defendant, whether through his/her social media account or computer (which is relatively simple to do), it is admissible.

Why this rash of confessing on the internet? One part of it is a guilty conscience. There is an old phrase, “loose lips sink ships”. Unless you are a hard core serial killer, the burden of carrying the fact that you took a life is very heavy.  The killer needs to share this burden with someone.  People need to talk…and this always gets them in the end. Many cases solved that way.

Also, there is the fame. In this world of reality television, where folks are being paid to party, fight and bring the drama, the old standards required to become famous have vanished. For instance, the Ohio video confession has hit close to 2 million hits on YouTube.  If it was purely about doing the right thing, why not just go down to the police station, tell the officers on duty what you have done and surrender quietly?  Maybe those who confess in this way think they will make some money with a movie or a book. If so, they are in for a nasty shock…most states have laws prohibiting incarcerated convicted offenders from profiting on their crimes.

Lastly, and not necessarily separate from the above two reasons, maybe the supposed killer wants to get his or her side of the story out. In the South Florida case, it appears from the confession that he may be setting up a defense that he was an abuse victim, and acted out. He may have figured that since he was going to get caught, might as well set up his defense in advance.  Time will tell on this issue. 

Both men have pled not guilty at their first appearance in court, but should not be judged based on this. It is a procedural act that is done by the defense attorney, and does not mean that they will not change their plea later on down the line. 

Online confessions, no matter what the underlying reason, help close cases.  Before, if a killer wanted to confess without going to the police directly, they may tell a friend or family member who may hold the secret for a long time.  Families of the victims may wait years, or may never get closure. This is an example of technology working for good. 

As painful as it is, keep those Internet confessionals coming.