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Angela Davis
Angela Davis

New York City is banning discrimination based on hair

TextKamara Hakeem-Oyawoye

New guidelines will protect New Yorkers' rights to maintain hairstyles including afros and cornrows without discrimination

This week, New York City Commission on Human Rights will add new guidelines that protect individuals from being targeted based on their hair in schools, work, and public spaces as it will now fall under racial discrimination laws.

While the law will cover everyone in New York, it is specifically aiming to target the consistent mistreatment of black demographics. The guidelines specify the right of individuals to maintain their "natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, Afros, and/or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state."

This new law, believed to be the first of its kind in the US, will mean that anyone who has been harassed, threatened, demoted, fired or in any way been treated unfairly based on their hairstyle or hair texture is entitled to legal recourse. According to the New York Times, penalties have no cap on damages, and up to $250,000 can be issued to violators of the new guidelines. Additionally, the commission has the right to force internal policy changes and rehirings in institutions found guilty of discriminating against hair. This change in the law comes after multiple reports of discrimination in hospitals, restaurants and even non-profit organisations.

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