Nebraska lawmakers advance bill to ban hair discrimination

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska lawmakers gave initial approval Tuesday to new workplace protections that would ban discrimination against employees based on their hairstyles.

The measure advanced on a 38-0 vote through the first of three required votes.

Sen. Terrell McKinney, of Omaha, introduced the bill to prevent employers from harassing or firing employees based naturally curly hairstyles that are popular among Black people.

Gov. Pete Ricketts vetoed a similar bill last year, saying he supported the intent but had concerns that it would prevent employers from enacting grooming standards related to safety, such as food handlers or machinery operators. Ricketts also noted that some hairstyles aren’t exclusively worn by one race.

McKinney said he worked with the governor’s office this year to address those concerns and help the bill pass. Under the current bill, employers could impose standards for workplace safety reasons. Law enforcement agencies would be exempt from the requirements.

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