Dreadlock-Hating NJ Ref Is Suing For Emotional Distress, Character Defamation

Alan Maloney told Andrew Johnson to cut his dreads or forfeit, and now he’s suing.

Back in December, New Jersey high school wrestling referee, Alan Maloney, found himself in a storm of controversy. Maloney forced wrestler Andrew Johnson to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit his wrestling match.

Although Johnson came with his hair covered in a wrap and coach’s warning, Maloney, dissatisfied, ordered Johnson to cut off his dreads or face disqualification.

Since then, the incident was investigated and the Buena Regional Board of Education has taken the necessary precautions. One such measure was refusing to send its sports teams to any events where Maloney would be officiating.

Now it’s reported that Maloney has taken the first step towards filing a lawsuit alleging defamation of character and emotional distress.

In a notice sent to 12 possible defendants this month, Maloney alleges he has lost $100,000 in income. Officials say Maloney had not been scheduled to officiate since December; a referee gets about $84 to officiate a varsity match.

In his claim notice, Maloney defends his actions during the match between Johnson and an opponent from Oakcrest High Schools in Mays Landing.

Maloney claimed Johnson violated the athletic association’s rules governing hair and did not have a legally sanctioned hair covering. He added that the proper time—90 seconds—was given for Johnson to correct the problem.

Johnson’s family lawyer, Dominic Speziali, maintains that Johnson’s hair length fell within regulations and that Johnson was singled out. He also added that Maloney said Johnson needed a covering not because of the length but because his hair “wasn’t in its natural state” and referred to the dreadlocks as “braids”.

Johnson and his family have declined any interview requests as this case develops.

Tabie is your friendly neighborhood transplant, currently attempting to live out the big New York dream. During my free time, I like to write stories and short essays. I also use this expensive thing I bought called a camera. I capture moments and the beautiful people I encounter. I live by the motto "collaboration over competition" because why waste energy bringing someone down when we can rise together. Manhattanville College Alum.