This week, we’re celebrating a victory for human dignity and the right of people of African descent to wear their hair texture in public. According to their press release, the New York City Commission on Human Rights has released “new legal enforcement guidance that defines discrimination on the basis of natural hair and hairstyles, which disproportionately impact Black people, under the New York City Human Rights Law.”
The Commission goes on to say that:
Specific violations of natural hair protections under the Law in employment, education, and
public spaces include:
· Grooming or appearance policies that ban or require the alteration of natural hair or hair styled into twists, braids, cornrows, Afros, Bantu knots, fades, and/or locs may face liability
under the Law because these policies subject Black employees to disparate treatment;
· Policies that force employees to straighten, relax, or otherwise manipulate their hair to conform to employer expectations. The existence of such policies constitutes direct evidence of disparate treatment based on race and/or other relevant protected classes under the Law;
· Disparaging or mistreating an employee based on their natural hair or hairstyle;
· A school policy that prohibits natural hair, locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, or Afros;
· Harassing, subjecting to adverse treatment, or otherwise disciplining any student because they choose to wear their hair in a style commonly associated with Black people.
The above protections extend to all users of public accommodations, including businesses such as restaurants, fitness clubs, stores, and nightclubs, and other public spaces, like parks, libraries, healthcare providers, and cultural institutions.
This is a major step forward for inclusion, respect and diversity and we hope that municipalities around the country and the world will adopt similar guidelines.