Louisiana Senate passes ban on hairstyle discrimination; now it’s up to the House

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This undated photo provided by Jimmy Hoffmeyer shows his daughter Jurnee Hoffmeyer, 7, before a classmate and a teacher cut her hair on separate occasions. (Jimmy Hoffmeyer via AP)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Louisiana Senate on Monday unanimously voted to make it illegal for employers to discriminate against someone because of their hairstyle, a measure striking at tactics that have targeted Black people who wear their hair naturally.

Senate Bill 61, by Sen. Troy Carter, a New Orleans Democrat recently elected to a congressional seat, would expand Louisiana’s existing anti-discrimination law, which bars employers from discriminatory practices based on a worker’s race, religion, sex or national origin.

On March 24th, state Rep. Tammy Phelps (D-Dist. 3) prefiled House Bill 189 that would prohibit race discrimination based on natural hairstyles. It was referred to the Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations. On April 12, it was read by title and again referred to the House Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations, where it remains. Phelps is a member of the Labor and Industrial Relations committee.

Carter prefiled SB 61 on March 22, it was ready by title and referred to the Senate Committee on Labor Relations, on which Carter serves as chairman. On April 26, the committee reported favorably and on April 27, it was ready by title, passed to third reading and final passage.

The legislation would spell out that prohibited discrimination on the basis of race includes hair texture and hairstyles such as braids, twists and natural hair.

The Senate’s 36-0 vote Monday sent the measure to the House for debate. If passed there, it would take effect Aug. 1. Several other states have passed similar legislation.

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