New Bill Aims To Combat Hair Discrimination

Jul 19, 2019

Some Michigan lawmakers want to join New York and California in prohibiting discrimination based on hair.

Employers, education institutions and housing providers wouldn’t be able to discriminate based on hair style if a new bill gets all the way through the state Legislature.

The bill lists hair texture, locks, braids, and twists as specific examples of hairstyles that would be protected.

The ACLU of Michigan says hair discrimination disproportionately harms black people. It says the courts have been slow to recognize this type of bias.  Bill sponsor, Rep Sarah Anthony said the issue really goes beyond hair. She said this is about letting people celebrate their culture. 

“Employers often time look at a person’s hair and just by the nature of the way it is growing out of their head, it’s deemed unprofessional," said Anthony.

Anthony said people are being penalized in their jobs because of the way they wear their natural hair.

“For some bad actors or some individuals in these workplaces that may be using the subjective standards of beauty, as opposed to looking at the individual and their qualifications, that’s what this bill is really trying to address," said Anthony.

Anthony said she’s grateful her current job allows her to change her hair as much as she wants. And she wants other people of color to have the same protection in their job.