For many Black women, the choice of a hairstyle has limited their job options. Either they’ve been told to change natural hairstyles once on the job, or felt pressure to hide or change a natural hairstyle when looking for a job.
Now, New York City has taken a stand. The city has instituted guidelines to protect Black people with natural hairstyles from being discriminated against on the basis of their hairstyle.
“In New York City, we want to make the bold statement that these prohibitions on hairstyles that are closely associated with black people are a form of race discrimination,” Carmelyn Malalis, Human Rights Commissioner and Chair told BuzzFeed News. “They really fail to consider the toll these bans take on black identity.”
As reported by Buzzfeed, these guidelines will make it illegal for African-Americans to be discriminated against by and employer for wearing Afros, locs, braids, Bantu knots and other natural hairstyles. In the case that employees are required to wear hair nets for safety, those roles must be applied equally to all ethnicities.
“Far too often, Black people are shamed and excluded from jobs or school because of objections to natural hairstyles, but courts have been slow to recognize that bias against natural Black hair is a form of race discrimination,” ACLU senior staff attorney Ria Tabacco Mar said in a statement provided to Buzzfeed News.
“Today, New York City has taken an important step toward ensuring that all of us have the freedom to work and learn regardless of how we wear our hair.”
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