Louisiana House committee advances bill prohibiting employers from discriminating against natural hairstyles

Reps. Dodie Horton and Valarie Hodges question Sen. Troy Carter about his bill to ban discrimination against natural hairstyles (Photo courtesy of Ryan Nelsen/LSU Manship School News Service)

Published: May 7, 2021

By: Ryan Nelsen | LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE — A bill banning employers from discriminating against natural hairstyles advanced through a House committee Thursday, even though four Republicans objected to it.

The bill, written by state Sen. Troy Carter, a Democrat from New Orleans who was recently elected to the U.S. Congress, adds natural hair to the traits Louisiana companies cannot discriminate against when hiring. The House Labor Committee approved the bill in a 7-4 vote.

“The issue of natural hair and descendants who are of African American descent particularly, who opt to wear their hair natural, non-permed and without chemicals should be able to do that,” said Carter.

The bill had passed 8-0 in a Senate committee and continued its success in the full Senate, passing 31-0.

Carter said the bill does not interfere with employers having requirements for hair length or facial hair, citing that firefighters need shorter hair and that some jobs prohibit facial hair on men.

“If there are rules that are in place that govern all hair, it just can’t distinguish or discriminate against someone because of the texture,” said Carter.

Another worry from critics on the panel was that business owners would be confused on what is a natural hairstyle. The committee used examples of audience and panel members to demonstrate what the bill was describing.

The four Republicans who voted against the bill were Reps. Beryl Amedée of Houma, Valarie Hodges of Denham Springs, Raymond Crews of Bossier City and Larry Frieman of Abita Springs.

Every Democrat in the committee voted favorably as well as three Republican representatives–Michael Echols of Monroe, Dodie Horton of Haughton and Charles Owen of Rosepine.

Rep. Tammy Phelps, D-Shreveport, presented the bill alongside Carter and will continue as co-author as Carter transitions to the U.S. House. Phelps aided Carter in explaining that the bill was to protect hairstyles including natural, braids, locks and twists.

Read more at brproud.com

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