Nuanced discrimination in the workplace: hair texture and styles

While policies against race-based discrimination are in effect at the state level in Arizona, the push for updating current laws or adding new legislation to specifically address hairstyles and hair texture is gaining momentum.

Race-based hair discrimination continues to have an effect on job opportunities in all stages of employment, from hiring to promotions and even termination. While this is not a new issue for the people who have been most affected by it, many people are unfamiliar with the details and may have questions.

Why is this important?

Black men and women with natural hairstyles are often perceived as less professional in the workplace. This prejudice can have a profound impact, especially considering that hair is an expression of identity and has historical significance in Black culture.

Which localities have enacted these laws?

This is not a state-wide statute as of right now, but both Tucson and Tempe have enacted laws banning hair discrimination.

What should I do if I have experienced hair discrimination at work?

If you work in either of the cities that have enacted statutes against this type of employer behavior, you have options for recourse. However, even if you live outside of Tempe or Tucson city limits, there are Arizona laws against race discrimination. It may be more difficult to prove the treatment you endured was race discrimination, but it is not impossible.

No one should have employment opportunities denied to them because of their race, and employers who discriminate against natural hair are doing just that.