Punk cut, braids... Employees will soon be free to wear their hair however they want?

A bill against hair discrimination is making its way through the Assembly.

Punk cut, braids... Employees will soon be free to wear their hair however they want?

A bill against hair discrimination is making its way through the Assembly. It could allow more freedom with hairstyles, particularly in the professional environment.

This Wednesday, March 20, the deputies of the law committee adopted the bill from Guadeloupean deputy Olivier Serva which aims to penalize "hair discrimination". This refers in particular to “the cut, color, length or texture of the hair”. Jean-François Amadieu, director of the Discrimination Observatory at the Sorbonne interviewed during the legislative work, defended the necessity of this law particularly in the context of the world of work. He assures that hair does play a role in access to employment and that hair discrimination in hiring is a reality.

Some testimonies gave examples of such situations such as that of an Air France steward who was reportedly rejected because of his braids tied in a bun. The company's uniform manual specified that men should have "hair combed extremely neatly." It is specified: “Limited in volume, hairstyles must maintain a natural and homogeneous appearance. The length is limited at the nape of the neck to the level of the upper edge of the shirt”. On the basis of this regulation, the steward, who refused to comply with it, was sanctioned and then dismissed for “unfitness and impossibility of reclassification within the company”. The Court of Cassation ultimately ruled that Air France had committed discrimination with regard to the difference in treatment between women and men because the latter could wear such hairstyles.

However, this reasoning cannot be applied to all cases. This is why some MPs would like to have hair discrimination specifically recognized. They deplore that in France people who are victims of such discrimination “find themselves devoid of a precise legal framework.” It even forces some people to change their hairstyle to pass interviews or keep their jobs. This can be harmful to health, particularly with the use of certain hair products to straighten hair, and there is also a risk of psychological impact on “self-esteem”.

This law would therefore aim to integrate into the field of criminal repression any discrimination or distinction linked to the texture, color, length of an individual's hair. It would be added to the penal non-discrimination system included in the Penal Code, the General Civil Service Code and the Labor Code. It is now indicated in each of these texts that "no distinction, direct or indirect, can be made because of physical appearance" and it is subsequently that Olivier Serva proposed to specify "in particular the cut, color, length or texture of their hair.

The bill divides. Supported by the independent LIOT group and supported by the left and the majority, elected representatives of the Republicans and the National Rally considered that this law was “superfluous” and aims “to import Anglo-Saxon legislation and its victim logic into French law ", as reported by France Info. On March 28, the text will be examined by the National Assembly.