NYC Places First-Ever Ban On Hair Discrimination

woman smiling natural hair
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The NYC Commission on Human Rights has finally made it illegal to ban #BlackHairMagic in the workplace. The commission released new regulations on Monday, attaching a $250K fine to employers and public places with appearance and grooming policies that discriminate against natural hair and hairstyles.

[SEE ALSO: Former Banana Republic Employee Files $1M Lawsuit For After Being Fired For Rocking Box Braids]

In what may be the first-ever rules in the U.S., the new guidelines state that employers and places like fitness clubs, schools, nightclubs, and youth clubs “cannot force Black people to change their natural hair as a requirement to be admitted in or retain affiliation.”

That means New Yorkers can now rock whatever hairstyle you want without fear of getting fired, written up or denied access. That includes dreadlocks, afros, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, etc. It is also unlawful to require employees to straighten, relax or otherwise manipulate their hair.

“Policies that limit the ability to wear natural hair or hairstyles associated with Black people aren’t about ‘neatness’ or ‘professionalism;’ they are about limiting the way Black people move through workplaces, public spaces, and other settings,” said NYC Human Rights Commissioner and Chair Carmelyn P Malalis. “We’re excited to take this step because every New Yorker deserves to be treated with the dignity and respect that the City Human Rights Law is designed to ensure.”

The Commission also shared that it is currently investigating seven such hair discrimination cases where Black employees have been fired for wearing their natural hair down or forced to change their hair to keep their job.

Now, this really shouldn’t be news, but for centuries, Black hair has been policed and discounted, with society proving time and time again that our hair is as much a part of our identity as our culture or our skin. (Yet,

Over the past few years, we have seen stories sparking national outrage of students getting detention or denied admittance to school or teachers chopping off their locs, as well as women being denied employment or fired for their hairstyles. And, let’s not forget the military, where the Marines banned natural twists and braids until 2015 and the Navy banned dreadlocks until 2017.

We hope these new rules start a trend that challenges hair rules across the country.

About The Author

Stephenetta (isis) Harmon

isis is digital media director for Hype Hair and founder/Black beauty director for Sadiaa Black Beauty guide, the top hair and beauty directory for women of color.