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By: Matt Ingold

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January 10th, 2020

New NYS Labor Law Posting on Hair Discrimination

Compliance & Auditing | HR

Not to be confused by the title of this article; "Hair" is not suddenly a protected class!

But hair styles and how NYS employers write their dress and grooming policies has made its way onto your 2020 NYS Labor Law Poster.

Here's what you need to know.

PosterElite labor posters reports, "In short, The New York State Division of Human Rights has updated their Fair Employment notice. The updated notice reflects that the definition of a covered employer under the New York Human Rights Law will be expanded as of February 8, 2020 to include all employers in the state regardless of size.

In addition, the notice was updated to reflect that racial discrimination based on hairstyle is prohibited in the workplace, and nonemployees working in the workplace are also protected from discrimination under the law. The poster revision date is January 7, 2020."

Specifically, here's what this means.

Employers are not allowed to call out specific hair styles in their company policy as being outside of grooming standards, as certain hairstyles are, arguably, race-specific.

For example, most people would say that an "afro" is a hairstyle that is more common to an African American employee. Writing a grooming policy that says employees cannot have "afros" is, arguably, targeting a selective population and therefore discriminatory.

That being said, employers can construct grooming policies that can be fairly applied across the board to all employees. They can't call out specific hair styles (i.e. no mohawks), but they can wordsmith their grooming policies to guide people toward a uniformly held standard.

Keep in mind, in 2020 if you have different grooming standards for men and women in your company policy, you'll probably want to fix that, hmm, yesterday.

Stay compliant, and contact us if you need a quick fix to your labor law posters. We're glad to review them with you.

About Matt Ingold

Matt serves as Benetech's Director of Business Development. He helps employers reduce the cost of personnel management, and discover where improved talent management can give their business a competitive advantage.

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