Legal Alerts

Pennsylvania Considers Amending Human Relations Act To Protect Hairstyles, Traits Historically Associated With Race From Discrimination

Philadelphia, Penn. (September 9, 2020) - Identical legislation pending in the Pennsylvania Senate (SB 964) and House of Representatives (HB 2725) seeks to amend the definition of “race” in the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to include “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.” 

The proposed legislation further defines “protective hairstyles” to include braids, twists locks, cornrows, coils, and extensions. If the legislation is enacted, Pennsylvania will become the fourth state to consider discrimination based on hairstyle as a form of race-based discrimination.  California, New York, and New Jersey passed similar legislation in 2019.

Employers with operations in Pennsylvania should be prepared to review their appearance and grooming standards and revise them, if necessary, if the law is passed. Likewise, employers with operations in California, New Jersey, and New York are reminded to review their policies to ensure they are compliant with the respective laws of those states.      

For more information on this pending legislation, contact the author of this alert. Visit our Labor & Employment Practice page for more alerts in this area.


John M. Borelli, Associate


Thalia S. Rofos, Associate

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