In New York City, targeting people based on their hair or hairstyle, at work, school or in public spaces, will now be considered racial discrimination, thanks to new guidelines to be released this week by the city's Commission on Human Rights. The new standards state that New Yorkers have the right to maintain their “natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, Afros, and/or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state.” The guidelines are believed to be the first of their kind in the country, and are based on the argument that hair is inherent to one’s race, and is therefore protected under the city’s human rights laws. The guidelines give legal recourse to anyone who has been harassed, threatened, punished, demoted, or fired because of the texture or style of their hair. The city commission can levy penalties up to $250,000 on defendants that are found in violation of the guidelines and there is no cap on damages.
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