Natural Hair Discrimination in Cincinnati will cease to exist thanks to Non-Discrimination Protections.
Cincinnati is the first city in the country to end a form of discrimination that has existed since this nation’s founding.
The new law is based on similar laws passed by the states of California and New York. It defines natural hair types and styles as protected from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation. Cincinnati City Council passed the legislation on October 9, 2019.
Cincinnati.com reported that under the proposal, it would be against the law to discriminate against natural hair and natural hairstyles associated with race. The law says the city would investigate complaints. Then, if there is probable cause, a hearing would be held. If discrimination is found, the perpetrator will be fined. A fine of $100 per day up to a total of $1,000 could be levied until the practice ends.
If you have experienced housing or employment discrimination based on your natural hair (style) since November 9, 2019, you can fill out an Online Discrimination Complaint Form, or a Printable Discrimination Complaint Form.
To file, you will need to:
- submit your contact information
- the complaint detail
- the contact information of the person who engaged in the discriminatory conduct
More recently, the City of Cincinnati’s Salary History Ordinance has been introduced to aid women in getting competitive salaries like their male counterparts. During the Equity, Inclusion, Youth & The Arts Committee Meeting on March 12, 2019, QCC presented information detailing a local perspective from businesses on this ordinance.
This ordinance has many community supporters including The Women’s Fund of Greater Cincinnati Foundation, another organization whose research and collaboration was an integral part of the passage of this law.
The Salary History Ordinance went into effect in April 2020. View a one-pager from The Women’s Fund of Greater Cincinnati Foundation with information for employers on how to be compliant with this law.
To join the Salary History Implement Working Group, click here.
Here is how it started…
Councilmember Chris Seelbach introduced legislation to add legal protections for natural hair types and styles to the City of Cincinnati’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance.
Since the days of slavery, natural hair types and hairstyles have been discriminated against. These hairstyles, commonly associated with African Americans, have been the focus of intentional as well as unintended discrimination. This discrimination occurs based on negative, lingering, cultural biases. These biases frequently favor hairstyles and hair types that more closely resemble Eurocentric hair types and hairstyles.
In the 1976 case of Jenkins v. Blue Cross Mutual Hospital Insurance, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld a race discrimination lawsuit against an employer for bias against afros. The appeals court agreed that workers were entitled to wear afros under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
The Crown Act of 2020 or Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act of 2020 prohibits discrimination based on a person’s hair texture or hairstyle if that style or texture is commonly associated with a particular race or national origin.
Specifically, the bill prohibits this type of discrimination against those participating in federally assisted programs, housing programs, public accommodations, and employment.
Persons shall not be deprived of equal rights under the law and shall not be subjected to prohibited practices based on their hair texture or style. The bill provides for enforcement procedures under the applicable laws.
After filing, the complaint will be submitted for review to the Administration. After the review is complete, you will receive a formal response. For questions, please call the City Manager’s office at 513-352-3243 and speak to a live representative.
“People of color have been forced to regard natural and popular hairstyles such as Bantu knots, braids, cornrows, dreadlocks, or Afros, as liabilities in the workplace, housing and public accommodations for too long. Black women are especially penalized because their style may not conform to what some may define as the traditional notions of beauty,” Seelbach said. “By adding natural hair to our city’s non-discrimination policy, we ensure that no Cincinnatian will be marginalized or discriminated against simply because of their hairstyle or texture.”
“From my kinks to my coils, I have grown to love my natural hair,” said Kamara Douglas, Administrative & Community Affairs Director for Councilmember Chris Seelbach who spearheaded the legislation. “Unfortunately, we live in a world where some institutions don’t think natural hair is professional or becoming. Not only is this demeaning, but it can also affect an individual’s sense of identity. The natural hair ordinance is so important for people of color. The passage of this law reflects Cincinnati’s embrace of all members of its community.”
Natural Hair Discrimination in Cincinnati photo provided by © [santypan] /Adobe Stock
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