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NYC Commission on Human Rights Settles With Hairstylist to the Stars for $70,000 for Hair Discrimination Claim

The New York City Commission on Human Rights recently reached its first settlement under the new law prohibiting discrimination based on hairstyles.  The case involved a claim against a hairstylist to the stars. 

Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger Salon settled with the Commission to end an investigation into whether the Salon enforced a grooming policy that discriminated against African American workers.  While the facts of the case are not entirely clear, Dorram allegedly sent e-mails regarding not having people with afros and dreads at the front desk.  This is the first enforcement action since the Commission released guidance, in February 2019, reminding employers that restricting hairstyles associated with African Americans constituted race discrimination.  We previously wrote about this guidance here.

As part of the settlement, Dorram, along with the co-owner of the Salon, is required to complete 35 hours of community service with an organization focused on racial justice and to create an internship program for underrepresented people. This is in addition to the $70,000 in damages she must pay. This type of penalty is unique in an employment discrimination case.  While training is a routine component of settlements, community service is uncommon.   

This case serves as a good reminder for employers to review their grooming policies to ensure they are not discriminatory as written or enforced.  Failure to do so can lead to costly penalties, payments to employees, and potentially even hours of community service for senior management. 

Brody and Associates regularly provides counsel on civil rights issues and employment laws in general.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560. 

Additionally, if this article generated any additional questions for you, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com.  We may address your question in a future blog post.