The Journal Gazette
Thursday, January 21, 2021 1:00 am

North Carolina cities OK ban on hairstyle discrimination

Associated Press

DURHAM, N.C. – Two city councils in North Carolina have unanimously passed ordinances protecting against discrimination for wearing hairstyles such as braids, dreadlocks or afros.

The Durham City Council on Tuesday voted to ban employers from discriminating based on hairstyles, WRAL-TV reported.

“It is absolutely a form of racial discrimination,” said Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry, who helped push for the legal protections. Early in her career, Deberry said, a court clerk pulled her aside and suggested she reconsider her short afro.

“There's 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've chosen to wear their hair,” Deberry said.

“Your grooming is talked about when you go out on interviews.”

The ordinance also protects residents from discrimination based on gender identity, sexuality and military status, the News & Observer reported. It comes as North Carolina municipalities are acting to expand LGBT rights since the expiration of a moratorium on nondiscrimination ordinances agreed to years ago as a compromise to do away with the state's “bathroom bill.”

Greensboro's City Council passed a measure similar to that of Durham's on Tuesday. Orange County, just northwest of Durham, also passed an anti-discrimination measure, but its ordinance did not address hairstyles.

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