Charles Craddock had hoped to use the money he earned working a summer job at an amusement park to pay for his tuition at Cuyahoga Community College, where he is studying mechanics. However, Craddock, 20, said that he lost his job because he refused to cut off his dreadlocks, though the park claimed he had resigned.
Craddock had successfully finished the interview process for a job as a food services associate with Cedar Point, an amusement park that calls itself the “roller coaster capital of the world” and is located on a Lake Erie peninsula in Ohio.
Craddock said that it had taken him four years to grow his hair and, initially, it hadn’t been an issue during his interview process with Cedar Point.
"I actually asked her about it because I read over the guidelines," Craddock said to ABC News about his interviewer. "So I asked her, 'Will it be a problem with my hair?' and she said, ‘No, as long as you keep it pinned up when you're working.'"
The park’s dress code standards for male workers include hair specifications which prohibit hair that is longer than collar-length and ponytails or “extreme hairstyles.” As for dreadlocks, the standards state that “any braiding or twisting of hair must meet all other appearance guidelines.”
Craddock completed orientation and moved into the amusement park’s dorms over the weekend. However, during his training session, he was told that if he didn’t cut his shoulder-length dreadlocks, he would have to leave. Craddock refused the demand.
"It's like losing a part of me," Craddock said in regard to cutting his hair, according to WCPO 9.
Craddock also said that if he had known his hair would have been such an issue, he would have looked for another summer job.
Cedar Point disputed Craddock’s claim that he had been fired and insisted that he had chosen to resign.
"Charles Craddock resigned from his job as a food services associate on May 3rd because he chose not to comply with our grooming standards," said Cedar Point spokesperson Bryan Edwards in a written statement to ABC News. "Mr. Craddock was informed ... three times prior to moving into the dorms [that] his hair would need to be trimmed or pinned up to meet those guidelines. It’s important to note, we employ 5,000 associates and their personal appearance plays a very important role in Cedar Point’s overall image."
In another statement to WEWS, Edwards said that company officials would “love to have the opportunity to talk with the employee” about compromising on his summer job, but approximately 24 hours after Craddock’s family helped him move into Cedar Point’s dorms, he had already departed.
Craddock said that he was given a “termination list” to sign after he declined to cut his hair. The young man said that he would have been willing to pull his hair back instead, but that it was not given as an option.
Image source: ABC News video