Professor Wendy Greene’s principal interest is examining socio-legal constructions of identity and how they inform and constrain civil rights protections aimed to combat inequality. As one of a few U.S. legal scholars actively engaged in the study of comparative slavery and race relations in the Americas and Caribbean, Professor Greene’s work on race and racial inequality embodies a hemispheric perspective. Her scholarship primarily explores emerging forms of workplace discrimination at the intersection of race, color, gender, religion, and national origin. She has coined two recognized terms in the field of labor and employment law - “misperception discrimination” and “grooming codes discrimination.” Her internationally recognized work in these areas has shaped the enforcement stance of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), administrative law judges, federal courts, and civil rights organizations in civil rights cases. Notably, the 11th Circuit and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have endorsed Professor Greene’s published definition of race as a legal authority on the social construction of race and as a practicable definition for constitutional decision-making respectively.
As one of the nation’s foremost experts on grooming codes discrimination, Teen Vogue, Now This News, and BBC World News have celebrated Professor Greene’s scholarly and public advocacy which is an instrumental force in the creation of municipal, state, and federal interventions that declare natural hair discrimination African descendants systematically encounter in schools, workplaces, and public accommodations constitutes unlawful race discrimination. In 2019, she served as the legal expert for the California C.R.O.W.N. (Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Act: the first statewide law in the United States to define race discrimination inclusive of discrimination on the basis natural and protective hairstyles such as twists, locs, and braids. In so doing, she testified on behalf of the C.R.O.W.N. Act before the California Senate and Assembly Judiciary Committees. Professor Greene’s first book, #FreeTheHair: Locking Black Hair to Civil Rights Movements, which draws upon her extensive expertise on this global civil rights issue, is under contract with the University of California Press.
Professor Greene’s work, frequently featured in news media, has also earned national awards. In 2014, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine named Greene one of 12 “Emerging Scholars.” In 2015, Professor Greene’s article, Categorically Black, White, or Wrong: “Misperception Discrimination” and the State of Title VII Protection, was conferred the Law and Society Association John Hope Franklin Prize celebrating exceptional scholarship in the field of race, racism, and the law. She served as: an inaugural visiting scholar at the University of California-Irvine School of Law’s Center on Law, Equality, and Race (CLEaR) in 2018; Scholar in Residence at Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law in 2015; and the Inaugural Scholar in Residence at St. Thomas University School of Law (Miami) in 2014. Professor Greene is currently the Frances Lewis Scholar in Residence at Washington and Lee University School of Law, where she also served as a visiting professor; she, too, has served as a visiting professor at the University of Iowa College of Law and the University of Kentucky College of Law. From 2007 to 2019, Greene was a faculty member at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, where she earned multiple awards for excellence in teaching and scholarship as both an untenured and tenured professor. Professor Greene teaches Employment Law, Employment Discrimination, Race and American Law, Critical Race Theory, Constitutional Law, Real Property, Equitable Remedies and a seminar on Appearance and Grooming Codes Discrimination.
Professor Greene, too, is a globe trotter, educating diverse constituencies around the world on contemporary civil rights matters. Since entering the legal academy in 2007, Greene has delivered over 100 professional presentations throughout the United States and in four continents. The daughter of American civil rights activists, she is deeply committed to public and professional service. Presently, she serves in the following roles: executive board member of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Law Schools Section on Employment Discrimination; Secretary of the AALS Section on Employment Law; Treasurer of the AALS Section on Law and the Humanities; a member of the editorial board of the Employee Rights and Employment Law Policy Journal housed at Chicago-Kent College of Law; and a member of the Lutie Lytle Black Women Law Faculty Writing Workshop Program Planning Committee.
Greene is a past chair of the AALS Section on Women in Legal Education and has previously served on the ACLU of Alabama Board of Directors, the 2015 American Society for Legal History Program Committee, the Birmingham Civil Rights Summer Voting Rights Series Steering Committee, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Human Rights Symposium Community Advisory Committee, the National Bar Association Law Professors Division Executive Committee, the National Chair’s Education Task Force for the National Black Law Students Association, and the Southeast/Southwest People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference Executive Committee.