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New York and California Enact Laws Clarifying Protections Against Discrimination Based on Hair Style or Texture Associated with Race

October 16, 2019

The Governors of California and New York recently signed bills which clarify that state law prohibits discrimination based on hair style or texture associated with race.

Both laws prohibit discrimination based on “traits historically associated with race, including but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.” The term “protective hairstyles” is defined to include, but not be limited to, “hairstyles [such] as braids, locks, and twists.”

Earlier this year, the New York City Commission on Human Rights issued guidance clarifying similar protections for employees under the New York City Human Rights Law.

The New York law takes effect immediately, and the California law takes effect on January 1, 2020.

Employers should review their policies and practices, including those policies relating to grooming and dress codes, to ensure that these policies comply with this new law. Additionally, employers must ensure that the managers and supervisors responsible for interpreting and enforcing these policies and practices are aware of the protections under these laws.

Please do not hesitate to contact any of our attorneys if you have any questions.