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Braids, locs and twists: new CA bill aims to protect certain hairstyles from workplace discrimination

For many black people, hair and race are inextricably interwoven.
For many black people, hair and race are inextricably interwoven.
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Federal anti-discrimination law protects the rights of people to wear afros, but it doesn’t have any specific protections for other styles commonly worn by black men and women.

That’s why Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) introduced Senate Bill 188, which would amend the Fair Employment and Housing Act to bar employers from enforcing grooming policies that have an outsized impact on people of color. For example, “protective hairstyles,” such as braids, twists and locs.

Today, we discuss the history of black hair in workplace, and the cultural and legal impact of this legislation.

And we want to hear from you. If you are a POC, have you encountered issues in wearing your hair in certain way in the workplace? How would this legislation impact you?

Call us at 866-893-5722.


Ramit Mizrahi, employment lawyer with Mizrahi Law in Pasadena; she tweets @MizrahiLaw

Noliwe Rooks,  professor of Africana Studies and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and director of American Studies at Cornell University; she is the author of “Hair Raising: Beauty, Culture and African American Women” (Rutgers University Press, 1996)