Two North Carolina City Councils unanimously passed ordinances that protect against discrimination for wearing hairstyles such as braids, dreadlocks, or afro hair.
The Durham City Council voted Tuesday, January 19, to prohibit employers from discriminating because of hairstyles, WRAL-TV reported. It is a problem that African Americans, especially women, say they have faced in their careers.
“It’s absolutely a form of racial profiling,” said Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry, who helped push the legal protections. Early in her career, Deberry said, a court clerk brushed her aside and suggested she reconsider her Afro cut.
“There is 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 wear their hair,” Deberry said. “They talk about your grooming when you go out for interviews.”
The ordinance also protects residents from discrimination based on gender identity, sexuality and military status, The News & Observer reported .
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The Greensboro City Council approved a measure similar to Durham’s on Tuesday, January 19. Orange County, northwest of Durham, also passed an anti-discrimination measure, but its ordinance did not address hairstyles.
While several other states, including Virginia, California, New York and New Jersey, have passed similar laws, Durham is one of the first cities in North Carolina to prohibit discrimination based on hair.
The city council also plans to vote on Thursday, January 21, on a resolution in support of creating an open and respectful world for natural hair, or the CROWN Act , a federal bill that prohibits discrimination based on hair.
The legislation passed in the US House of Representatives in September and city officials are joining an effort to get the US Senate to vote.[/rewarded_video]