French lawmakers approve legislation to combat hair discrimination


France Advances Legislation to Combat Hair Discrimination in the Workplace

France takes a significant stride towards prohibiting workplace discrimination based on hairstyles.

The National Assembly has given its approval to a bill, paving the way for further deliberation in the Senate.

This legislation aims to prevent employers from mandating hair straightening and requiring coverage for hairstyles such as afros, dreadlocks, and braids.

The bill, championed by Olivier Serva, an MP from Guadeloupe, seeks to provide support to individuals, particularly those of Black descent, who have encountered hostility in the workplace due to their hairstyles.

While the primary focus of the law is to address discrimination based on hair, it also extends protection to individuals with blonde or red hair, as well as those who are bald, facing what the bill terms as “hair prejudice.”

Serva highlighted a study from the United States indicating that a significant percentage of Black women reported being disqualified from job opportunities due to their hairstyle choices during interviews.

The legislation has drawn criticism from some quarters, arguing that existing French laws already prohibit the collection of personal data related to race or ethnicity, in line with the country’s “universalist” principles.

However, anti-racism activists contend that the absence of explicit reference to “racism” in the bill overlooks the reality faced by many, including public figures, who have been subjected to derogatory remarks online due to their natural hair.

They emphasize that hair discrimination disproportionately affects Black individuals.

Daphne Bedinade, a social anthropologist, noted that focusing solely on hair discrimination obscures the broader issues faced by individuals whose hairstyles make them targets of discrimination, particularly Black women.

Guylaine Conquet, a journalist from Guadeloupe, shared her personal experience of feeling pressured to conform to Eurocentric standards of professionalism by straightening her hair, despite transitioning back to her natural hair in 2015.

Conquet highlighted the challenges she faced from her audience, who were accustomed to her previous hairstyle, underscoring the societal pressures individuals encounter regarding their appearance.

In a notable case, Aboubakar Traoré, a black Air France crew member, secured the right to wear braided hair on flights after a decade-long legal battle, with France’s highest appeals court ruling in his favor based on gender equality considerations.

As France progresses with this legislation, it reflects ongoing efforts to address systemic discrimination and promote inclusivity in the workplace.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Enable Google Transliteration.(To type in English, press Ctrl+g)