NYC bans employment discrimination based on hairstyle
Valerie Bolden-Barrett | February 20, 2019
The New York City Commission on Human Rights issued enforcement guidance this week that prohibits employers from punishing, demoting, firing or taking other adverse actions against workers who wear their hair in styles reflecting their culture. The guidance, while applicable broadly, particularly acknowledges black workers' right to wear natural, treated or untreated hairstyles, including cornrows, locs, braids, twists, Bantu knots, fades and Afros and to keep their hair uncut or untrimmed. However, the new guidelines don't conflict with health and safety policies requiring workers to wear hair nets or pin up their hair, as long as the rules apply to all workers, according to the commission. Investigations into complaints by workers at a Morris Park medical facility; a Morrisania nonprofit firm; a Howard Beach restaurant in Queens; and an Upper East Side hair salon helped trigger the ban, the New York Times reported. The guidance says these changes "reflect a shift in American society in re-evaluating the basis for longstanding appearance norms, in light of their discriminatory nature, and the harm and burden placed on Black people who maintain prohibited hairstyles." This guidance is the first of its type in the country, the Times noted.