The way that a person chooses to style or wear their hair is an expression of who they are. Throughout North Carolina, men and women of all backgrounds visit salons and barbershops to have professionals help them achieve the looks they desire for their heads of hair. Individuals are often influenced by their cultural and personal styles when it comes to deciding how they want to look.
However, black men and women have often found opposition and outright racism directed toward them in their communities and workplaces when they choose to wear their hair in natural styles. The problem has become so prominent that federal legislation is under consideration to prohibit the practice in workplaces throughout the nation. States throughout the country have also begun to prohibit hair discrimination so that workers are treated fairly while on the job.
Legislators in North Carolina are currently working to pass hair discrimination legislation, but at this time no laws prohibit unfair work practices against individuals based upon the styling of their hair. This post will explore the background of hair discrimination, and what options men and women may have when they face this difficult form of harassment at work.
Examples of hair discrimination in the workplace
Claims of hair discrimination at work come from many industries and cut across different professions. A television reporter was told her braids were unprofessional after she began wearing them during her pregnancy. A soldier who wore her hair in locs was prosecuted by the military courts for violating dress rules. Arbitrary rules that disparately affect people of color often force individuals to conform their hairstyles to non-natural cuts and styles and deny people the chance to wear their hair in styles of their choosing.
What individuals can do when faced with hair discrimination
As stated, hair discrimination is emerging as a significant form of harassment and disparate treatment in different workplaces. When an individual is subjected to hair discrimination, it can be useful for them to discuss their treatment and concerns with employment law attorneys who represent victims of workplace harassment. While hair discrimination is an emerging area of employment law, victims may have rights to seek redress under other laws based on other forms of discrimination.
Race discrimination is a serious problem that may form the underlying cause of hair discrimination for some victims. An attorney can help their client understand the state and federal grounds for race discrimination that may support their legal claims. Because no specific laws exist to protect victims from hair discrimination, other legal theories may need to be pursued to secure remedies for victims.