Guidelines vs. Discrimination- How far Can Corporations go in Dictating Hairstyles?
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Unfortunately, natural sisters, the sad truth is that corporations can write their own guidelines regarding dress and neatness policies for their employees. There are currently no federal guidelines in place that pertain specifically to hair or discrimination against hairstyles and thus, that leaves a very gray area for the employers to use at their discretion.
Discrimination against race, gender, age, disability, religion, and cultural garb are mentioned in the EEOC federal laws, but not hair or hairstyles. Braids, dreadlocks and very curly, full natural hair are often targeted as ‘distracting’ in the workplace- but often top choices for natural women. As a natural woman, you can do your best to avoid these issues at work by being proactive in your approach to how you wear your hair.
Review your Company Policy in Depth
Before putting pen to paper and signing your employee handbook, be sure to ask questions about hair and how it may or may not be worn. Verbiage used in company guidelines can be vague- “extreme hairstyles” can be anything like bold color or cuts, to intricate braided styles. Get the specifics.
Examine your Company Type
If you work in a conservative, corporate environment, you should realize that all employees will be required to be neat and in business attire for the workplace. Thus, extreme and eye-catching hairstyles should be avoided. Opt for neat buns, ponytails and pinned back/up/to the side styles that are modest and won’t draw undue attention to your appearance. Don’t wear hair ornamentation, bright colors, excessively long wigs etc.
If you’re a lucky gal that works in a creative environment, the rules are often laxer and hair creativity is often encouraged among employees, so do your thing!
Remember, the best way to know the boundaries with your employer is to have an open discussion so that you are clear. Don’t be afraid to ask your potential employers all questions relevant to rules about dress code and hairstyle restrictions. If you feel like you’ve been discriminated against or rejected for employment because of your hair, you can contact a lawyer to find out what your options may be.
Author: Qiana Williams
|“Changing attitudes about natural hair” is what we do at Natural Haircare News. Through informative articles, podcasts and videos, we go beyond just sharing the latest advice and tips on kinky, curly, wavy haircare – We shake things up and focus on the realities of wearing our hair natural. Not sure of which products are right for your hair type? Visit our solution oriented natural hair products store.|
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