In early July, New York became the second state (the first was California) to ban discrimination against Black hairstyles. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill amending the Human Rights Law, which now recognizes discrimination on the basis of a hairstyle as racial discrimination. New York City introduced its own legal enforcement guidance regarding hair discrimination before the state's bill was signed into law, and it's clear the city is serious about putting the law into practice. "The legal enforcement guidance was the first in the country to recognize discrimination on the basis of hair as race discrimination, prompting a legislative change in other jurisdictions across the nation," says a press release detailing the issue.
As The New York Times reports, the Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger salon on the Upper East Side agreed to a settlement with New York City’s Human Rights Commission that includes a $70,000 fine. The salon was part of an investigation by the city commission following accusations of hair-based racial bias from former employees.
"This resolution is another step toward ensuring that racist notions of professional appearance standards are not applied in New York City," Carmelyn P. Malalis, the commission's chairwoman, said in a statement to The New York Times. The commission's guidance says that "Black hairstyles are protected racial characteristics under the [Human Rights Law] because they are an inherent part of Black identity."
In addition to the fine, according to the The New York Times, the settlement calls for the salon to "team up with" a local hairstyling school that specializes in Black hair, where the employees of the salon will be trained and educated. Plus, colorist Sharon Dorram and senior stylist Tim Lehman have to complete 35 hours of community service with a social justice group that "works to combat hair discrimination and promote Black beauty." Lastly, the salon must work with the school to create an internship program for underrepresented stylists.
In a statement provided to Allure, Sally Hershberger said she had "no involvement in the allegations associated with the Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger salon." She continued: "I am 100 percent against racial discrimination or any other type of discrimination in the workplace and have had a long-standing policy that reflects this. I fully support the rights of each employee to express their uniqueness and embrace a diverse work environment full of authenticity, integrity, and individuality. Anything less than this is unacceptable and I am taking all measures to ensure that my views are fully reflected at all of my salons."
Dorram also issued a statement to The New York Times through a spokeswoman, saying that she "was extremely sorry that her actions have caused any person to feel uncomfortable in her salon" and that her policy is now that employees are "free to wear their hair in any way that they choose and may freely express their unique styles." Neither responded to Allure's request for comment through publicists. Lehman and co-owner Steve Tuttleman could not be reached for comment.
Ria Tabacco Mar, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, shared her feelings about the ruling on Twitter: "One of the most pernicious stereotypes about natural Black hair is that it is inherently unprofessional," she tweeted.
This Uptown location, as well as other Sally Hershberger salons, is known for having seriously famous clients who see Hershberger herself, including Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. There are also three other Sally Hershberger locations in New York City and one in Los Angeles. There's no evidence that any of these salons are accused of discrimination, but The New York Times reports the settlement terms apply to all the New York City locations.
Last month, we spoke with Shonda Rhimes about hair discrimination. You can read that story here.
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Originally Appeared on Allure