Hair-based discrimination is now illegal in NYC.
New guidelines from the NYC Commission on Human Rights call out anti-Black bias and discrimination. The guidance pushes back against “white standards of appearance” that suggest Black hairstyles are unprofessional. The right to wear natural hair textures and styles associated with Black culture, such as locs, twists, braids, and Bantu knots are now protected.
The new guidelines follow several high-profile cases of hair-based discrimination. In December 2018, athlete Andrew Johnson was forced to cut his locs to compete in his high school wrestling match. In 2017, Banana Republic employee Destiny Tompkins said her boss demanded she remove her box braids because they looked “too urban and unkempt.”
The new law is the first of its kind in the U.S. and employers can be fined up to $250,000 if they violate the guidelines. There are currently no federal laws protecting people from hair-based discrimination.
In 2015, the Marines approved braids, twists, and locs and the Army lifted its ban on locs in 2017.
“There’s nothing keeping us from calling out these policies prohibiting natural hair or hairstyles most closely associated with black people,” NYC Commission on Human Rights and commissioner and chair Carmelyn P. Malalis explained.