In California, an anti-discrimination law already on the books protects people from harassment based on their race. However, if SB188 passes, the law could be updated to include hairstyles or other traits associated with a race. The bill is known as the Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act. It is meant to create an inclusive and diverse environment in schools and businesses. Rules against braids, locks and twists have typically been a greater burden for black students and employees.
These rules have the potential to discourage African-Americans from applying for jobs or subject them to punishment from their current employers. In some cases, workers have been denied advancement opportunities or event terminated from their jobs. Children have been sent home from school because their hair was deemed inappropriate. According to the lawmaker who created the bill, there are already state and federal protections for those who wear their hair a certain way for religious reasons.
There are also protections for those who wear head coverings for religious reasons. If it passes, the law would be similar to one that was passed in New York City. It says that people in the city are allowed to wear their hair in a manner that reflects their ethnic or cultural values.
Individuals who are faced with discrimination on the job may be victims of an employment law violation. This may be true whether an individual is discriminated against based on that person’s race, gender or other protected attribute. Individuals may wish to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Doing so may be the first step toward filing a lawsuit or negotiating a settlement. These and other steps may be taken with the help of an attorney.