California employees who are concerned about discrimination frequently think about the basics like age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, pregnancy, disability and other commonly referenced issues. However, there are other aspects of discrimination that could result in allegations of employment law violations. If the employee is confronted with problems at work, loses a job or is not hired in the first place because of it, it could be the foundation for a legal filing. A new law was recently enacted to protect workers who had previously faced discrimination because of their hair.

Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law that prevents discrimination against black people who wear their hair naturally. Those whose hair is naturally curly or “kinky” dealt with discrimination because of it. Studies have indicated that eight in 10 black women changed their hairstyle to be more acceptable based on societal norms. One woman had been in a legal fight for a decade because she had a job offer rescinded when she did not want to cut her hair. The dreadlocks she wore were in no way connected to doing her job at a call center. She lost her case, but it did set the stage for the new California law.

The bill had been introduced by a state senator saying hair should be connected to the person’s race. Since race is protected under the law, the argument was that hair should also be protected. The governor said that the new law’s intent is to ensure that people are free from being demeaned or forced to change who they are to conform with arbitrary standards that are not linked to the ability to handle the basics of a job.

With the new law, people who believe or have evidence that they were discriminated against because of their hairstyle in any way can seek compensation for it. Any new law can be confusing, however, so it is important to seek employment law advice if you are wondering how this new law affects you.