IT’S GETTING CRAZIER: New York City Aims to “Stop Hairstyle Discrimination”

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New York City doesn’t want people to have their hairstyles held against them, and it unveiled novel guidelines Monday against hairdo discrimination.

The new legal guidance says the city’s existing human rights law protects New Yorkers’ right to “maintain natural hair or hairstyles that are closely associated with their racial, ethnic or cultural identities.”

“Hair is a part of you. Race discrimination based on hair is illegal in NYC,” Human Rights Commission Chairwoman Carmelyn P. Malalis tweeted Monday after releasing the guidelines, first reported by The New York Times. They’re believed to be the first such measures nationwide?, the newspaper said.

In effect, the guidance enables people to seek fines and other remedies if they’ve been harassed or punished in workplaces, schools or public spaces because of their hair texture or style. Hair nets, ties and the like can still be required for health and safety reasons.

The protections apply to everyone but were prompted largely by what the commission calls “racist stereotypes that black hairstyles are unprofessional.”

The guidance specifically warns employers they could face legal trouble for banning styles associated with black people, such as Afros, dreadlocks or cornrows, or for instructing black workers to straighten their hair.

Around the country, some schools have drawn attention for banning dreadlocks, do-rags, Afros and other ways of wearing hair.

In December, there was an outcry after a white referee told a black New Jersey high school wrestler to cut his dreadlocks right before a match or forfeit it. The teen had the haircut, but many criticized the demand, including the state’s governor and an Olympic wrestler.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court declined last year to hear a discrimination suit involving a black Alabama woman who said she lost a job offer because she wouldn’t cut her dreadlocks. An appeals court had sided with the employer, saying federal law protects people from discrimination based on “immutable characteristics, but not their cultural practices.”

New York City’s human rights law is distinct from federal anti-discrimination law, and Malalis told the Times “there’s nothing keeping us from calling out these policies prohibiting natural hair or hairstyles most closely associated with black people.”

(AP)




16 COMMENTS

  1. Seems New York is heading to a new war crime category. Perhaps this mean that if a barber for the Marine corps lives in New York the barber can be charged under these laws for carrying out the hideous acts of giving Marine recruits (or draftees) a Marine haircut?

  2. So this legal interpretation would allow a frum yid to sue if he was denied a job or or access to public accomodations because he had paiyos or a long beard? And that’s good or bad?? Its not clear why the headline says these non-discrimination guidelines are “crazy”??

  3. Although it was definitely not what they meant, but this law may be a blessing in disguise for Men with long beards, or women with Shaitels that may be discriminated against.

  4. Uncle Ben: If a woman is wearing a sheitel it might provoke a men to engage in inappropriate thoughts as to what her hair looks like under the sheitel. Hairstyles are not the same as head-coverings.

  5. Within living memory (mine, to be exact) it was once perfectly legal to forbid an Orthodox Jew from wearing a yarmulkeh in the workplace on the grounds that it was “unprofessional.” Same for beards. So once again we are the beneficiaries of legislation that was won by other people for their own protection but also applies to us – think the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which also forbids discrimination on religious grounds. Rather than making fun of this law, we should be grateful for it, since as observed above, it protects Yidden who wear payos and beards as well. HaShem is looking out for us, just doing it indirectly.

  6. NYC under its lowlife mayor is out to destroy all standards and social norms under the guise of sticking up for the poor underdog. He is out destroy society as we know it. If his real concern was the poor underprivileged, he would do things to help them progress, instead of this nonsense.

  7. Btw, with few exceptions, the yarmulke issue went away a long time ago because non-discriminatory employers came to realize that under that yarmulke is generally a capable or better than capable employee.

  8. I’d like someone here to tell me how this will prevent discrimination or help you. Most jobs I see posted, from retail, to insurance, to office work, all require Saturday’s. I am automatically unemployable if I don’t have availability. I cannot sue like a head-scarfed girl did for a mall job some years ago.

    I’ve tried asking this hypothetical to employment lawyers with no response. Everyone knows there is discrimination, and they are allowed to discriminate because they can think of a 1000 plausible reasons and excuses to not hire you. Who can prove it is because of hair, outfits, or looks?

    These academia theories in the article of disparate impact and the other made up theories only help certain special classes of people, not everyone.

  9. The reason why this is a “crazy” law might be because once they go down this path, what’s stopping them from saying it’s discrimination to not hire someone who insists on coming to work with his pants down under his backside. Let’s say it was a highly professional environment, would that now be ok?

    And from there, what’s to stop them from saying culturally, if someone says in his culture it’s the norm to walk around without a shirt in the summer; would it now be discrimination to force him to wear a shirt or not be hired?

    There are social and moral and professional norms.

    Once they start going down this path, it’s open season on everything.