Maloney O'Laughlin PLLC fights for employees throughout Washington, from Seattle to Spokane.

Maloney O'Laughlin PLLC fights for employees throughout Washington, from Seattle to Spokane.

When dress codes are evidence of race discrimination

On Behalf of | May 12, 2024 | Race And National Origin Discrimination

Some businesses have dress code requirements for employees. The most standard kind of dress codes require employees to wear standard semi-professional attire. This kind of dress code usually accommodates clothing many people already own. Some employees may be required to wear shirts with a business’s logo and contact information, and others may be required to wear uniforms provided by their employer.

Alongside dress codes are hygiene policies, including brushed teeth, deodorant use and regular showers. Some businesses may have hairstyle requirements. Employees may be told they must have their hair a natural color, cut at a certain length and stylized in a specific way. However, enforcing this policy and punishing employees who do not follow guidelines may be an act of racial discrimination.

Hair protection under the Crown Act

People with straight hair often have to do very little to style their hair according to dress codes. However, there are many kinds of hair textures. For example, Black and African-American people often have curly or kinky hair textures. These textures often require people to style their hair differently by using harmful and expensive chemicals and treatments to conform to dress codes. Doing so may discriminate against someone’s race and culture, especially for communities that recognize the ways in which hair can manifest a profound cultural significance.

Hair discrimination is not a new issue, but is closer to ending. Under the Crown Act, people can no longer lawfully face discrimination for hairstyles, including braids, locs, twists, afros and Bantu knots, for example. Employees who have faced racial and cultural discrimination can take legal action to address the issue accordingly.