New York Salon Accused of Racial Discrimination

An upscale salon in Uptown Manhattan has been asked to pay a $70,000 fine after an investigation by the New York City's Human Rights Commission revealed instances of hair-based racial bias against former employees.

The move is a result of a recent bill enacted by Governor Andrew Cuomo that bans hair-based racial discrimination. With the new law, New York became the second state in the country to do so, followed by Califorrnia.

The bill precedes decades of workplace discrimination primarily targeted at Black men and women where natural styles such as afros, twists and cornrows have been dismissed as "unprofessional."

The salon in question is Sally Hershberger, known for its high-end and celebrity clientele including the likes of Hillary Clinton and Michele Obama.

Although in a statement to Allure, Hershberger denied any involvement in the "allegations associated with the Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger salon," both Dorram and Senior Stylist Tim Lehman have been accused of reportedly telling Black employees that Afros and box braids did not fit their image.

"I am 100 percent against racial discrimination or any other type of discrimination in the workplace and have had a long-standing policy that reflects this," Hershberger told Allure." I fully support the rights of each employee to express their uniqueness and embrace a diverse work environment full of authenticity, integrity, and individuality. Anything less than this is unacceptable and I am taking all measures to ensure that my views are fully reflected at all of my salons."

Along with the hefty fine, the salon will also be expected to work with a hairstyling school specializing in doing Black hair, in order to train and educate the employees. They'll additionally be required to help the school formulate an internship program for marginalized stylists. Lehman and Dorram are further asked to complete 35 hours of community service with a group working to combat hair discrimination and "promote Black beauty."

"This resolution is another step toward ensuring that racist notions of professional appearance standards are not applied in New York City," Carmelyn P. Malalis, the commission's chairwoman, said told The New York Times.

Dorram also told NY Times that she is " extremely sorry that her actions have caused any person to feel uncomfortable in her salon" and that "employees are free to wear their hair in any way that they choose and may freely express their unique styles."

Photo via Getty

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