South Florida county may ban work discrimination of natural hairstyles

States like New York and California have passed similar laws

A Democratic-leaning county in South Florida may make discriminating against people with hairstyles that are a "trait of race" -- like an afro or braids -- in the workplace illegal, according to a report.

Broward County commissioners Tuesday decided to give the issue a public hearing, and if approved natural hairstyles would be protected under the county’s Human Rights Act, which already protects residents from sex, age, sexual orientation or race discrimination, according to the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. 

California and New York were the first two states last year to ban discrimination of natural hairstyles.

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Broward County Commission Mayor Dale Holness, who is Black, introduced the legislation and said discrimination based on African American hairstyles happens frequently. He said his sister wasn’t hired for a job once because she has braids and the company said that wasn’t the "image" they wanted for their employees.

Holness explained his sister decided to get braids because she got tired of constantly putting chemicals in her hair to make it straight. 

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 “White folks don’t have that problem because your hair is naturally straight for the most part, right?” he asked, according to the Sentinel.

Holness accused Commissioner Mark Bogen of being naïve after he said he’s “never seen anyone fired because of their hair” in 37 years as a lawyer.

“It’s real life, it’s not making stories up,” Holness added. “We can pretend this stuff doesn’t happen, but it does, it’s real.”

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The chair of the county’s Human Rights Board, Michael Rajner, said the legislation would allow people to be respected for “the characteristics they are born with," according to the Sentinel