Do you have a hair policy for employees? If so, you may want to review it. It may be having a discriminatory impact:
- Last year California became the first state to ban employment discrimination based on hairstyles. The Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act prohibits policies that discriminate against individuals with natural hairstyles. Several other states have introduced similar bills.
- Some employment attorneys say that policies banning certain hairstyles (such as Afros or dreadlocks) may be considered race discrimination. At the same time, a prohibition of long hair or requiring employees to be clean-shaven could discriminate against certain religions.
- Some companies may have hair-related policies for health or safety reasons. For instance, requiring that workers keep their hair short if they work around food, flames, machinery, or chemicals.
- All companies should have policies that protect workers from hair-based discrimination. This should be explicit enough to protect minority groups who may face negative consequences when they don’t conform to majority “norms.”
- When this policy is announced, organizational leader should clarify the reason for having it.