Discrimination can come in many forms. One of those forms is through the policies that an employer creates and enforces. Sometimes, the discriminatory nature of those policies is fairly obvious; other times, it can be much more subtle. Take for example, restrictions on workers’ hairstyles. On the surface, it may appear to be an effort to ensure a professional appearance among all employees. Under the surface, it may be something that actually discriminates against certain races, like African Americans. If you think that you’ve suffered race discrimination at work, whether it was fairly overt or much more subtle, be sure you know your rights and your options. Contact an experienced New Jersey employment attorney promptly about your situation.
Some cities and states have taken action to eradicate this system of discriminating against certain races via hairstyle policies. Late in April, USA Today reported that the California Senate passed a bill that, if also passed by the state Assembly and signed by the governor, would include discrimination based upon an employee or job applicant’s natural hairstyles among the list of impermissible forms of discrimination covered by that state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. This includes hairstyles like Afros, braids or twists, which are commonly worn by African Americans.
The argument for laws like this is that, while employers cannot discriminate against African Americans explicitly, by banning certain hairstyles, they can reject African Americans’ applications, deny their promotions and even terminate their employment on a disproportionate basis. Declaring these types of policies to be a form of workplace race discrimination would protect African-American employees. According to the California senator who authored the new bill, many African-American workers in past generations have been forced to use expensive and potentially damaging chemicals on their hair to make it compliant with some employers’ sets of rules, USA Today reported.