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Activists speak out against natural hair discrimination

African Americans in New York and throughout the country sometimes experience discrimination because of their natural hairstyles. Activists working for the Dove Self-Esteem Project and the CROWN Coalition recently organized an event on the West Coast to urge school administrators to accept natural hairstyles instead of shaming and disciplining students who choose not to treat their hair chemically.

Speakers at the educational event shared stories about suffering discrimination at school because of their hair. Many of them chose to protest their treatment, but they acknowledged that the issue took away from educational time. The event also brought attention to The CROWN Act petition. Only two states have approved The CROWN Act, which bans natural hair discrimination by schools and employers. Activists want to take the law nationwide.

Research funded by Dove found that by the age of 8, most African-American girls have been insulted because of their hair. Once they grow up, black women are 80% more likely to change their natural hairstyles to meet social and workplace expectations.

An employer that enforces policies related to personal appearance against only certain employees might be guilty of disparate treatment. Someone experiencing negative attention because of race, religion, sex, age or disability might wish to ask an attorney about their legal rights. An attorney could explain how employment law applies to the person's specific situation. Damages related to workplace discrimination might include lost pay and missed promotion opportunities. An attorney could strive to collect a settlement that reflects the level of career damage and emotional harm that the worker experienced.

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