Nebraska Legislature passes hair discrimination ban

LINCOLN — For the second straight year, the Nebraska Legislature passed a bill aimed at preventing job discrimination against employees based on their hairstyles.

Sen. Terrell McKinney, of Omaha, said he introduced the bill to prevent employers from harassing or firing employees based on 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.

LB 451 expands existing laws banning racial discrimination in employment. It would define race to include hair texture and protective hairstyles, such as braids, locks and twists. The measure passed on a 40-4 vote. 

 
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