Indianapolis residents and others may have been told that their hair made them unsuitable for a specific job. While it had been legal to discriminate against people based on their hairstyles in the past, states have passed legislation in an effort to ban it. For instance, California passed the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act in 2019. New York, New Jersey and other states followed suit soon after.
In some cases, hair discrimination can be considered a form of racial discrimination. Therefore, workers might be protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law prevents employers from creating policies that infringe on the rights of a protected class even if they are designed to be applied in a neutral manner. Companies that prevent workers from growing out their hair could infringe on the rights of those do so for religious reasons.
Finally, forcing a worker to shave could result in skin or other health issues, and enacting such a rule might be seen as disability discrimination. Ideally, companies will be upfront and transparent about policies designed to guard against hair discrimination. Organizations should tell their workers that having such a policy is designed to create an inclusive culture in which everyone can feel safe expressing themselves.
Individuals who believe that they have been victims of workplace discrimination may want to file a complaint with their employers. It may be possible to file a complaint with the EEOC if an internal complaint isn’t enough to resolve the issue. An attorney might be able to help a person file a complaint or represent a person during settlement talks. Emails, text messages and other evidence may be used to establish that a person was discriminated against by an employer.