High end salon set to receive Black hair care training after discrimination complaints

A discriminatory dress code will cost a New York hair salon $70,000, along with a mandate that workers there get training on styling Black hair


Employees at a high-end celebrity salon in New York City are being mandated to receive training on Black hair styling after a law passed which makes it illegal to discriminate against customers based on their hair.

In February, the New York City Commission on Human Rights updated a pre-existing city law to ban hair discrimination. Since then, other areas like New Jersey, California and a county in Maryland have all followed suit.

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One establishment that will be impacted by the new guidelines is the Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger salon, which boasts high-profile clientele likes Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Meg Ryan.

According to The New York Times, the salon recently found itself in trouble after allegedly “telling black workers that Afros and box braids did not fit the area’s upscale image.”

City officials confirmed the salon has been hit with a $70,000 fine in response, and has been ordered to train “employees to work with Black hair and help advance the careers of stylists who are not white.”

David Speer, a former manager at the salon, told the Times that after he hired three Black women to work as receptionists, colorist Sharon Dorram forced him to suddenly implement a harsh dress code.

“Can’t be three girls at the desk. Two like this and one with a big afro. What is our image? Please instruct them not to wear hair down and no nose rings,” Dorram allegedly informed him after stating that although the salon wasn’t trying to be racist it believed dreads “looked awful.”

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The three women in question, Taren Guy, Raelene Roberts and Regine Aubourg all confirmed Speer’s account. In total, four complaints were filed against the salon for discrimination based on the actions of management, who repeatedly insulted Black employees for their hair and made snide comments about Black people in general.

The salon on Manhattan’s Upper East Side — which was just one of a cluster of businesses whose racially biased practices prompted changes to the city law — has vowed to train the employees on Black hair care and create an internship program for stylists that are not white.

“This resolution is another step toward ensuring that racist notions of professional appearance standards are not applied in New York City,” New York City Commission on Human Rights chairwoman Carmelyn Malalis said in a statement to the Times.

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