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Hairstyles are now a protected category too? Yes they are!

On July 3, 2019, California’s Governor signed SB 188 that prohibits discrimination based on a person’s hairstyle.  Yes, hairstyle.

Pursuant to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, it is unlawful to engage in specific discriminatory employment practices based on certain protected categories, like race.  This bill will amend the Government Code and Education Code to expand the definition of race.  “Race” is inclusive of traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles. It further defines “Protective hairstyles” to include, “but is not limited to, such hairstyles as braids, locks, and twists.”

How does this impact employers? Well, the legislature has concluded that workplace dress codes and grooming policies that prohibit “natural hair, including afros, braids, twists, and locks, have a disparate impact on Black individuals as these policies are more likely to deter Black applicants and burden or punish Black employees than any other group.”  This could lead to increased risk for the employer.

For more information on the new Senate bill, see here.  For information on how to ensure your policies, such as dress code or grooming policies are compliant with this new law which becomes effective January 1, 2020, please contact the employer lawyers at Chauvel & Glatt.

This material in this article, provided by Chauvel & Glatt, is designed to provide informative and current information as of the date of the post. It should not be considered, nor is it intended to constitute, legal advice or promise similar outcomes.  For information on your particular circumstances, please contact Chauvel & Glatt at 650-573-9500. (Photo credit: 123rf.com)


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