Let your hair down

A change in the law in New York City will recognize racial discrimination against people on the basis of their hairstyle.

The guidelines, released by the city Human Rights Commission will be released this week and they mention people’s rights to maintain hairstyles such as braid, cornrows, twists, afros or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state. The changes arise from the argument that hair is inherent in one’s race.

The legislation will provide legal recourse to anyone who feels that they may be being discriminated against as a result of their hairstyle. Fines of up to $250,000 may be issued and there is no cap on the damages which may be recovered.

Various complaints from workers in the Bronx in New York prompted the changes. Many of the forms of harassment, punishment and even threats being levied against individuals flow from racial discrimination and the new laws seek to protect all races but in particular Black Americans. The protection will apply to individuals at work, school, or in public places.

The introduction of these changes expands the parameters of human rights protection in the United States. It will be interesting to see whether similar changes make their way across to the UK or beyond.

At Meaby & Co, we can help you if you think you have been discriminated against, whether it is at work or elsewhere. Contact our team and cboyce@meaby.co.uk to discuss further.