“Hair Discrimination” Enforcement Guidance Issued by NYC Commission on Human Rights

The New York City Commission on Human Rights recently released its Legal Enforcement Guidance on Race Discrimination on the Basis of Hair (February 2019).

That document provides, inter alia:

The New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) protects the rights of New Yorkers to maintain natural hair or hairstyles that are closely associated with their racial, ethnic, or cultural identities.[] For Black people, this includes the 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.[]

While grooming and appearance policies adversely impact many communities, this legal enforcement guidance focuses on policies addressing natural hair or hairstyles most commonly associated with Black people, who are frequent targets of race discrimination
based on hair. Accordingly, the New York City Commission on Human Rights … affirms that grooming or appearance policies that ban, limit, or otherwise restrict natural hair or hairstyles associated with Black people[] generally violate the NYCHRL’s anti discrimination provisions.