For many people races, ethnicities and religious beliefs, individuals may have hairstyles that reflect their culture and customs. As the New York City Commission of Human Rights opined there is a widespread and fundamentally racist belief that black hairstyles are not suited for formal settings, and may be unhygienic, messy, disruptive, or unkempt.
The law set forth by the Commission outlines specific types of hairstyles in which employers discriminate against their employees. For example, for people of color, there is a right to “maintain natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, Afros, and/or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state.”
In certain instances, there may also be a case for race, color, gender and/or religious discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as other applicable New York State and New York City laws. If you believe that you have been discriminated against on the basis of your hairstyle, you should contact our office immediately for a free consultation.