Californians who experience discrimination because of their ethnic hairstyles can sue their employers under a new law Gov. Gavin Newsom signed on Wednesday.
The law expands the definition of discrimination to include hair textures and hairstyles commonly associated with race, such as braids, twists and locks. It allows students and employees to file discrimination lawsuit, but does not include any specific fines or penalties.
Black employees and students should not “need to alter that to meet someone else’s comfort level or meet someone else’s perception of what’s professional in the workplace because all of us up here are quite professional every day,” said Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, who sponsored the law.
Dove, the manufacturer of hair care products, recently conducted a national survey that found black women are 80 percent more likely to change their hair to meet social expectations at work. The company also found that black women were more likely to report being sent home or knowing a black woman sent home because of their hair.
Dove endorse Mitchell’s bill, which is known as known as the Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act.
In signing the bill Newsom said he cited a 16-year-old New Jersey athlete who was asked by a wrestling referee to either forfeit his match or to cut off his dreadlocks last year.
“That is still fixated in my mind. It is played out in workplaces, in schools, not just in athletic competitions, every single day across America,” Newsom said. “This is long overdue.”