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New York City Makes It Illegal to Discriminate on the Basis of Hairstyle

Rearview studio shot of a young woman with curly hair

The killjoys at the New York City Commission on Human Rights are at it again. Not content to prevent us from discriminating on the basis of race, sex, creed, ethnic origin, sexual preference, gender identity, weight, height, age, (take a breath), and disability, we are now ordered not to discriminate based on hairstyle.

Hairstyle?

Anti-Black racism is an invidious and persistent form of discrimination across the nation and in New York City. Anti-Black racism can be explicit and implicit, individual and structural, and it can manifest through entrenched stereotypes and biases, conscious and unconscious. Anti-Black bias also includes discrimination based on characteristics and cultural practices associated with being Black, including prohibitions on natural hair or hairstyles most closely associated with Black people. Bans or restrictions on natural hair or hairstyles associated with Black people are often rooted in white standards of appearance and perpetuate racist stereotypes that Black hairstyles are unprofessional. Such policies exacerbate anti-Black bias in employment, at school, while playing sports, and in other areas of daily living.

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.2 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.

Can we require our employees to take a bath once and a while? Or would that "perpetuate racist stereotypes"?

It's already illegal to discriminate against black people based on their race. Now, the NYC Commission on Human Rights makes it doubly bad to discriminate against black people by telling us that "unconscious" bias against dreadlocks is forbidden.

No such thing as an "unprofessional" appearance anymore, I guess.

Gothamist:

“There’s nothing keeping us from calling out these policies prohibiting natural hair or hairstyles most closely associated with black people,” Carmelyn P. Malalis, the Chair and Commissioner of the New York City Commission on Human Rights,  told the NY Times, adding that "they are based on racist standards of appearance."

Does this mean that we can't discriminate against bald people either? Rapunzel would be able to take her employer to court due to her overly long locks?

I know some people who wouldn't mind going to work naked. Would it be discriminatory if we fired their asses on the spot?

I freely admit to discriminating against people with red hair. I hate people with red hair. Say the word "ginger" and I fly into a rage. I find few women with red hair attractive and every time I see a man with red hair I want to slug him. I know this makes me a bad, evil person. Perhaps the NYC Commission on Human Rights will take that issue up next.

In truth, it's perfectly alright to discriminate against people with red hair because the vast majority of carrot tops are white. You see, these anti-discrimination laws are not directed at everybody. Many people are free to discriminate as long as the person they're discriminating against is a white, male, atheist, or Christian. And if he's rich, that's the trifecta. A black employer can deny a white male a job solely because he hates white people and be free of concern that the white guy will hold him accountable. If he tries any legal remedies, he will be laughed out of court.

There's nothing really wrong with this -- in the abstract. It is repairing an "historical injustice." I just wish we'd all be honest about the discrimination and admit that it's OK to deny white men employment and other things based solely on their race and sex. Minorities, women, gays, and others may still be discriminated against -- and they are -- but, many times, can't prove it. At least they have legal remedies at their disposal and the law is on their side.

Denying that employers can establish minimum standards of grooming and appearance is simply stupid. And since when did hairstyles become a "human right"?

The inmates aren't running the asylum. They own it.