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Houston Woman, 52, Fired Over Her Gray Hair?

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on July 11, 2011 6:47 AM

The news is littered with stories of women who are fired for being overweight, but given the laws against age discrimination, it's rare to hear about someone being fired over gray hair. But Sandra Rawline alleges just that.

In a lawsuit filed against Capital Title of Texas, the 52-year-old Houston woman alleges that she was fired from her branch manager position after refusing to adopt a younger image and dye her gray hair.

Is this legal?

According to the lawsuit, Sandra Rawline claims that her boss asked her to dye her hair and update her wardrobe with "younger fancy suits," reports the Houston Chronicle.

She refused, and was fired the next week.

Capital Title of Texas claims that her dismissal was the result of one of its customers no longer wanting to work with her, according to the paper. That customer, who was Rawline's primary source of work, still interacts with three 64-year-old employees.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, firing, treatment, as well as the conditions of employment, when aimed at anyone aged 40 or above.

While employers have significant leeway in regulating employee appearances, they cannot negatively impact persons over the age of 40, nor be discriminatory in nature.

If you take the allegations made by Sandra Rawline as true, her boss' requirements that only she dye her hair, and that she dress younger, indicate that, while she may not have been fired over gray hair, she was, at the very least, subject to illegal on-the-job age discrimination.

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