DURHAM, NC (AP) – Two North Carolina city councils have unanimously passed ordinances protecting against discrimination for wearing hairstyles such as braids, dreadlocks or afros.
Durham City Council voted on Tuesday to ban employers from discriminating based on hairstyles, WRAL-TV reported. This is a problem that black people, especially women, say they have faced in their careers.
“It is absolutely a form of racial discrimination,” said Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry, who has helped push for legal protections. Early in her career, Deberry said, a clerk took her aside and suggested she reconsider her short afro.
“There’s probably a very, very small percentage of black women who can tell you that they haven’t felt some form of discrimination based on how they chose to style their hair,” Deberry said. “We talk about your grooming when you do interviews. “
The order also protects residents from discrimination based on gender identity, sexuality and military status, The News & Observer reported. It comes as North Carolina municipalities act to expand LGBT rights since the expiration of a moratorium on nondiscrimination orders agreed years ago as a compromise to eliminate the “Bill on Law”. state toilets.
Greensboro City Council on Tuesday passed a measure similar to Durham’s. Orange County, just northwest of Durham, also passed an anti-discrimination measure, but its ordinance did not apply to hairstyles.
People who work in hair care see the problem: Salon owner Kito Jones said a client who worked as a neurosurgeon used hair straighteners because she felt pressured to comply. The woman’s hair then began to fall out, Jones said.
“She was the only woman of color,” Jones said. “This caused her to continue wearing her hair with chemicals in a slicked back pattern, so that there was acceptance, so to speak, among her colleagues.”
While several other states, including Virginia, California, New York, and New Jersey, have passed similar legislation, Durham was one of the first cities in North Carolina to ban discrimination based on hair.
City council is also due to vote on a resolution on Thursday to create a respectful and open world for natural hair, or CROWN Act, a federal bill that prohibits discrimination based on hair. The legislation was passed by the United States House in September, and city officials are joining the effort to get the United States Senate to vote.