France passed a bill banning hair discrimination in the workplace

The French National Assembly has passed a bill that will criminally punish those who discriminate against a person based on the color or size of their hair, particularly in the workplace.

This proposal aims, among other things, to protect curly hair of African origin. The text had 44 votes in favor and two against and will now reach the Senate, where it must be approved in order to enter into force.

The MP Olivier Serva assured that many companies pressure their workers, especially black women, to cut their hair or untie their braids for image reasons.

Serva said this is intended to protect not only “black women who are forced to straighten their hair before a job interview,” but also “redheads” and “bald people,” among others.

The proposal would include hair discrimination in the list of criminal sanctions provided for in labor law.

The bill received the support of various MPs of African descent: “I am here with my braids. My wigs. When I applied for some positions, I was asked to straighten my hair,” said Representative Fanta Berete.

Reference image. Photo: Creative Commons

Many black women have been rejected from jobs because of the appearance of their hair

Olivier Serva mentioned that an American study found that a quarter of black women surveyed said in their respective job interviews that they had been rejected from a job because of the appearance of their hair.

“If it’s just about hair discrimination, you obscure the problems of people whose hair makes them the object of discrimination, especially black women,” Daphné Bedinade, a social anthropologist, told Le Monde newspaper.

For the Minister of Gender Equality, Aurore Bergé, the bill “has the merit of highlighting this type of discrimination”.

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MP from the radical left-wing France Insoumise party, Danièle Obono, stressed that it is a “real, serious and political” problem that “mainly affects women” and “racialized people”.

Some of the critics asserted that the project was unnecessary since discrimination based on appearance was already prohibited by law.

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