A California lawmaker recently proposed a bill that would provide protections for individuals who wear certain hairstyles in the workplace, primarily African Americans. If passed, the bill would prevent employers from implementing policies about acceptable hairstyles that many claim are a form of workplace discrimination. There are already federal laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace for people who wear afros, but the law does not currently extend to other hairstyles.
This bill proposes changes to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, extending protections to individuals who have protective hairstyles besides afros. Employers would no longer be able to enforce polices that may be discriminatory against individuals who wear braids, twists and locs. Current polices enforced by many employers are thought to unfairly impact people of color.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act provides protection for workers against discriminatory practices in their place of employment on the basis of race or ethnicity. The proposed amendment to the act would extend those protections to include hairstyles often associated with race. This measure could significantly increase equality in the workplace and keep workers from having to alter their chosen hairstyles simply because of their employer’s preference.
Workplace discrimination in any form is unacceptable and illegal. If a person experienced discriminatory treatment for reasons related to race, gender or other factors, he or she can take steps to hold the employer accountable. The law allows for employees to seek restitution for mistreatment in the workplace, and if a person believes this is an appropriate course of action, it may be helpful to first seek a complete evaluation of the case.