Any employer can discriminate against you, even if you are a federal employee. Despite laws protecting people from discrimination, it can be hard to prove what motivated someone’s behavior or treatment of an employee.
Having an education and ambition isn’t enough to protect you from unfair policies and practices that put you at a disadvantage. Black women, in particular, often face an uphill battle in professional environments.
Hair discrimination is an issue that has recently come to the forefront of workplace discussions in America. Pending legislation could pave the way to change the way that employers manage the appearance of their workers throughout the country. How does hair discrimination occur in the workplace?
Workplace policies often leave no room for natural Black hair
Black hair comes in a range of textures with different levels of curl and bounce. Depending on the kind of hair a woman has, it could take hours of work and even dangerous chemicals to make her hair adhere to traditional professional standards that require flat, straight hair.
Workplace policies that specifically prohibit braids, Afros, dreadlocks or other natural hairstyles that work with Black hair instead of against it put Black women in a difficult position. According to research by the NAACP, Black women are 150% more likely to be sent home or know someone who was sent home from work because of their hair than employees of other races.
If you have experienced workplace racial discrimination stemming from characteristics like your hair, you may need to fight back both for yourself and other employees that come after you.