Our attorneys have earned a trusted reputation for protecting the rights of employees and employers throughout Pennsylvania.
  1. Home
  2.  → 
  3. workplace discrimination
  4.  → Can discrimination happen based on hair?

Can discrimination happen based on hair?

On Behalf of | Mar 9, 2023 | workplace discrimination |

Despite many efforts across the board to reduce discrimination of all kinds in the workplace, it still continues to plague workers across the nation.

In some cases, employers may not even realize what they engage in is an act of discrimination. This often applies to hair discrimination.

The correlation between race and hairstyle

The Society for Human Resource Management discusses the possibility of discrimination happening based on hair. This discrimination came about due to the conflation between certain hair textures and hairstyles and certain ethnic or racial groups.

For example, within the African American community, common and popular hairstyles include the use of Bantu knots, cornrows, twists, braids or locs. Afros or hair with tightly curled or coiled textures also fall into this category.

Job loss and lost opportunities due to hair

In the past, people with these sorts of hairstyles sometimes missed out on job opportunities specifically because of their hair. Employers may have used logic such as saying that such hairstyles looked “messy”, inappropriate for work, or unprofessional.

This unfortunately forms a basis for discriminating against certain racial or ethnic groups by the hairstyles they choose to wear. It prevents people within these ethnic or racial groups from advancing their careers.

Even within companies, employees with natural hair may face discrimination after getting hired. A well-meaning employer may tell them to change their hairstyle due to it looking “unprofessional”, but this is a form of discrimination as well.

Acts like the CROWN Act intend to address such forms of discrimination and prevent people from facing job loss or issues at work due to their hair.