Our state’s employment law includes both state and federal laws that protect workers from discrimination. These laws allow those that have been discriminated against a pathway to compensation and justice. Unfortunately, discrimination is not always easy to spot as overt discrimination is rare. But, one recent Michigan State University and Duke University research study found that black women who choose to keep their hair natural may experience discrimination as a result.

Examples of hair based discrimination

In 2018, a young black woman named had her employment offer revoked because her natural hair violated the employer’s grooming policy. In 2019, a broadcast news anchor was similarly fired because she refused to straighten her hair. These are examples of workplace discrimination.

Social media

The increased use of social media has further compounded this type of discrimination. Often, job candidates have pictures on their social media, which may include pictures of them with their natural hair style. Recruiters, who then see this hair style, can move on to other applicants. The passed-over applicant may very well never know that they were just discriminated against.

The study

The study, entitled, The Natural Hair Bias in Job Recruitment, was published back in August in Social Psychological and Personality Science. The study outlined biases that persisted against Black women in the U.S. workplace, which are there because of the accepted norm of the typical white woman’s straight hair.

The study held four focus groups with hundreds of participants. Each was to evaluate female job applicants through their social media profiles, like Facebook and LinkedIn. The study found that Black women with straightened hair and white women with straight or curly hair received far more recommendations than Black women who had natural hair.

What can be done?

The Detroit metro area is not an island devoid of workplace discrimination, and when one finds themselves a victim, there are options. Both Michigan and federal law makes workplace discrimination illegal. However, one must contact a Royal Oak attorney to get their options.