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New York law now prohibits discrimination based on natural hair

On Behalf of | Jul 22, 2019 | Workplace Discrimination

It is an unfortunate reality that many people are treated unfairly without just cause. In fact, numerous individuals in protected classes can face discrimination in the workplace simply because of their skin color, disabilities, religion and other characteristics. Fortunately, steps are being taken to prevent mistreatment in New York.

According to reports, Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed a new law that makes it illegal to discriminate against individuals for their natural hair or hairstyle. This type of discrimination commonly affected people of color who may have been treated differently due to the texture of their hair or even the style in which they wore it. The law specifically includes protective hairstyles, such as twists, dreadlocks, braids and other styles typically associated with a particular race.

The law also requires employers to make sure that their dress codes and grooming policies do not disproportionately target any specific group of people. Those codes and policies also need to be race-neutral in language. Individuals who believe that they have been discriminated against based on their hairstyles can file complaints with their human resources department, and the department must handle the issues just as they would with any other type of complaint regarding discrimination.

While signing such policies into law is certainly a step in the right direction, laws do not always prevent employers from committing workplace discrimination. As mentioned, workers have the ability to file complaints with their HR departments, but in the event that those complaints are not properly handled, New York workers do have other options. Consulting with an employment law attorney about illegal treatment on the job could help individuals understand those options.