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Michigan: Hairstyle Discrimination Prohibited

As of June 15, 2023, the state’s employment discrimination law, which applies to employers of all sizes, defines race to include protective traits historically associated with race, including but not limited to hair texture and protective hairstyles. Examples of protective hairstyles include braids, twists, and locks.

Notably, because the law will now define race to include any trait historically associated with race, it could have broader applications, such as protections for dialect and styles of dress.

Action Items

  • Update your equal employment or antidiscrimination policy, and any other policies that include protected classes, to make it clear that race includes traits associated with race.

  • Evaluate any dress or grooming policies that limit hairstyles, including policies that contain indirect restrictions, such as those that require hair to be less than a certain length.

  • Train managers and those involved in the hiring process to not make judgments about professionalism or cultural fit based on an employee’s hairstyle or other traits historically associated with race.

(MI SB 90 was signed by the governor on June 15, 2023)

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