The NYC Commission on Human Rights now requires New York City employers to permit their employees to maintain natural hairstyles that are “ closely associated with their racial, ethnic, or cultural identities.” This includes the right to maintain natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles, (locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, Afros), as well as the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state.

Simply put, NYC employers must be wary that their policies and procedures do not intentionally or unintentionally result in unfair treatment for employees of certain ethnicities. For example, a Banana Republic employee recently sued for discrimination because she had been told her braided hair did not conform to the “Banana Republic look.”

The new guidelines apply to New York City employers who enforce standards for employee grooming. The change is intended to protect all black people of African decent from disparate treatment due white and European standards of beauty.

At this time this guidance does not apply to employers outside of New York City.

If you’re an employer looking for guidance to comply with State, federal, or local laws, contact The Coppola Firm. We’re happy to assist you.