Hair Loss Lawsuits: What You Need to Know
March 7 2023
Hair salons might be liable depending on the circumstances if they cause injury or fail to provide the expected level of service. If you experience damage to your hair due to negligence while visiting a salon, it would be wise to contact an experienced lawyer to discuss your rights and any potential legal remedies.
Hair Discrimination: An Overview
Hair discrimination, originally a term coined in the late 1990s by Professor Afiya K. Zia, is defined as policies or practices that negatively target individuals based on their hairstyle or texture. In recent years, it has unfortunately been a rising issue within the legal arena sparked by several hair-related lawsuits.
Employers have long imposed oppressive standards on black professionals which some argue is directly linked to internalized racism and colorism. Such discriminatory practices can range from covering up natural hairstyles under wigs or hats to bans on dreadlocks, braids, and Afros. Consequently, these policies often lead to discrimination because for many women of color, styling their hair in the ways stated above are deeply rooted in their culture and heritage. When employers fail to accurately accommodate ethnically diverse employees’ grooming customs due to repercussions such as “unprofessionalism” or “unkemptness,” it creates an unequal playing field and disadvantages certain people from doing well at their jobs.
On the other hand, many employers contend that imposing a company dress code helps foster unity among coworkers and that esthetic regulations ensure customers do not feel uncomfortable interacting with employees whose style may appear out of place in certain contexts. Moreover, they often argue that enacting more lenient regulations on employee attire can lead to potential distractions and lessen respect for the job role itself meaning workers are effectively treated less seriously by employers.
The legal system has inevitably been called upon in order to decide whether hair discrimination should be recognized as illegal and punishable at all levels. Although this debate continues among lawmakers and judges alike, one thing remains certain: employers need to take every measure possible to ensure fair treatment of all staff members regardless of their choices concerning physical appearances in order to maintain workplace neutrality and create an equal environment for all workers.
With that said, it’s time we look into the topic of overlooked Title VII violations which can be filed when there is an allegation of hair-based discrimination within the professional setting.
- In 2017, a consumer class action lawsuit was filed against Procter & Gamble Co. concerning its Hair Regrowth Treatment product.
- According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are currently over 220 products that claim to treat or prevent hair loss or promote hair growth with no reliable scientific evidence.
- A 2018 study found that there were 90 product liability claims made in the United States between 2000 and 2016 for hair-restoring drugs and medical devices.
Overlooked Title VII Violations
The protection of civil rights in the workplace, established by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, extends beyond simply matters of race, color, national origin and religion. Also included are cases of alleged discrimination based on characteristics like gender, sex, and hairstyle. Unfortunately, those filing hair loss lawsuits may have experienced employment misuse or mistreatment due to a type of discrimination not typically discussed—hair loss.
Though seldom acknowledged or mentioned as a form of discrimination against protected classes, Title VII violations based on an individual’s altered appearance due to medical treatment—in this case hair loss—do exist. Depending on the circumstances, individuals affected by medical hair loss could be considered either disabled persons seeking reasonable accommodation or individuals discriminated against based on an immutable characteristic (i.e. their race).
When it comes to racial bias cases involving hair loss—mostly due to chemical treatments for textured hair—it is essential to consider the employer’s perspective and generic grooming policies. On one hand, employers may have had valid reasons for refusing to hire or promoting someone because of that person’s appearance and styling choices being out of sync with corporate image and customer perception goals. On the other hand, there are instances when such appearances constitute infringement on legally protected attributes associated with an applicant’s identity like race and gender expression.
Although these Title VII violations often go overlooked in scenarios involving hair loss and racial bias, it is important to recognize that they can still occur and should be taken seriously by employers and courtrooms alike. This is particularly true as more workers bring their employment grievances related to their appearance through legal channels and into the public sphere.
Given the sensitivity of this issue, understanding how to correctly distinguish between what is considered valid grounds for upholding corporate codes from evidence of illegal discrimination against protected classes is essential for both sides in a hair-loss-related lawsuit. In the next section we will explore cultural and racial bias further as a potential basis for Title VII violations in company policies regulating employee hair styles and looks.
Cultural and Racial Bias
When it comes to hair loss lawsuits, an important factor is to consider cultural and racial bias. Despite the fact that many people of color choose to style their hair in ways that are seen as unprofessional or atypical in offices and work environments, it is important to note that these styles hold tremendous cultural significance. Curly and Natural hairstyles often have centuries-old symbolism behind them, including pride for one’s heritage, a statement of identity, and autonomy over personal appearance. As such, forcing any individual – let alone employees of any race – to conform with mainstream norms in the workplace can be seen as insensitive and detrimental to their basic sense of freedom.
At the same time, however, businesses must still adhere to reasonable regulations in order to ensure safety, promote productivity, and uphold corporate image. While solutions exist for most companies when it comes to accommodating this cultural and racial diversity without sacrificing professionalism – such as relaxed dress codes or relaxed policies regarding hairstyle variations – these are not always accepted by employers. This discriminatory behavior can lead to legal action against those who stubbornly insist on upholding outdated standards unrelated to job performance.
Given all this, hair loss lawsuits related to cultural or racial bias can be difficult cases – yet they are absolutely worth pursuing in order to advance civil rights legislation within the United States workplace. The next section will delve deeper into the civil rights laws applicable in discrimination cases involving hair loss lawsuits, as well as any legal precedent they may set for other hair discrimination cases.
Civil Rights Laws in the United States and Hair Discrimination
Hair discrimination can occur when employers and educational institutions decide to reject certain hairstyles or textures typically associated with one’s racial or ethnic identity. The most common hair types to face discrimination include straight, afro-textured, natural, locs and braids. In the United States, civil rights laws exist to protect individuals against discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability and/or religion. Unfortunately, this does not always include protection from hair-based discrimination due to outdated and antiquated notions of what is considered ‘professional’ in the workplace.
There is great debate about the extent of hair discrimination in our society and its implications for civil rights law. On the one hand, it’s argued that civil rights laws should be enforced uniformly across all aspects of life including hair choices. On the other hand, critics believe that upholding these standards too strictly could lead to unjustified firing of innocent employees or denial of admissions into educational institutions.
Whatever stance you take on this hotly debated topic, one thing is clear – hair discrimination has become a frequent topic of discussion as thousands of cases involving hair-related disputes are brought forward year after year across the United States. Hair discrimination lawsuits often involve those who wear different updos and styles commonly attributed to their race or ethnicity. The following section will address lawsuits related to hair discrimination and what individuals need to know before going forward with such claims.
Hair Discrimination Lawsuits
Hair discrimination lawsuits have become increasingly common in recent years as the discussion around natural hair and its proposed standardization in workplaces grows. The current interpretation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, or religion in educational institutions and workplaces. While this legislation might seem like it should protect those with various hairstyles against discrimination in work environments, that has not historically been the case. A number of civil rights organizations have recently argued that language be added to the Civil Rights Act to explicitly protect people who display different hairstyles due to cultural values or personal preference against any form of discrimination.
Supporters believe that such legislation should be created because highly-professional attitudes about appearance continue to unfairly target certain hairstyles associated with race and culture. For example, an organization may put up a no-locs policy and fire individuals with dreadlocks on sight without taking into account how it discriminates against Black communities. Additionally, female employees are frequently told that their natural hair is not an acceptable style for a professional workplace.
On the other hand, many feel that having explicit protections for different hairstyles could lead to confusion about what is an appropriate workplace look for both men and women. Teams may find themselves unsure of when “unkempt” is going too far. Others worry that new language regarding hair would open the door for frivolous lawsuits, creating a massive financial obligation for employers who are often already struggling economically.
As discussions continue on ways to make sure everyone feels welcome and accepted in workplaces while maintaining high standards of professionalism, it is clear that clear policies need to be created around how exactly these conversations will play out in courtrooms across the country when hair discrimination lawsuits arise. With this understanding in mind, it is essential to examine more closely how employers ought to create rules and policies around hair types in their organizations. The next section will explore employer policies, as well as look at what kinds of hairstyles fall under protected categories outlined by the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Employer Policies and Hair Typing
Hair loss discrimination can take on a variety of forms, but some of the most insidious are employer policies that are discriminatory in terms of hair type. From businesses to schools and beyond, employers have increasingly been introducing regulations that create a certain “look” they expect their employees and pupils to fit into. Unfortunately, this often reinforces racial stereotypes and can constrain natural hairstyles associated with certain cultures, including African American hair which is particularly prone to breakage, thinning, and baldness due to its fiber structure.
Often overlooked by employers, such policies fail to take into account accomodations that need to be made for potential issues related to hair loss or the maintenance of complicated hairstyles. This has led to a number of lawsuits alleging disparate impact on minorities in terms of job recruitment and retention rules related to hairstyles. Employers argue they should have the right regulate the outward appearances of their staff since it affects how the public perceives their business; however, culture-specific styles should not be excluded from consideration or appropriated without consent or credit.
Conversely, some argue that any form of dress code regulation is inherently oppressive regardless of race or class as it limits individual expression. They suggest that these types of policies likely derive from colonial-era constructions in which minority populations were expected to adhere to the cultural practices established by their dominant masters. In any case, it’s important for companies and schools alike to develop reasonable policies when regulating how employees choose to style themselves outside of uniform requirements.
This section has discussed the implications posed by employer policies regarding employee and student hair types. Moving forward, we will examine judgement and decisions in hair discrimination cases against employers and institutions.
Judgement and Decisions in Hair Discrimination Cases
When it comes to judgement and decisions in hair discrimination cases, the outcome can be highly variable. In some cases, courts have ruled in favor of plaintiffs bringing claims of discrimination. In other cases, however, defendants have been able to successfully defend themselves against allegations of discrimination or prejudice.
There are several factors that courts take into consideration when deciding the outcome of these cases. The primary factor is whether the person projected an appearance that was considered “unprofessional” or out of line with accepted standards for their profession. If a hairstyle is deemed inappropriate for their work environment, then the court may not view any subsequent punishment as being discriminatory in nature.
The second factor taken into account is whether or not the employer’s policies on hair and/or grooming were communicated clearly to employees before they began working there. To prove a case of hair discrimination in the workplace, it is important to establish that a company had ill-defined rules or confusion surrounding those rules and that alleged victims felt unsure of what was expected regarding their hair in such situations.
Additionally, several jurisdictions – including California, New York and Illinois – have enacted laws that address race and gender-based hair discrimination in both educational institutions and workplaces. When considering cases based upon these laws, courts likewise must assess how hairstyle trends from different cultural backgrounds were affected by these policies as well as how these policies impacted employees in terms of dress codes for professional settings.
Given the diverse range of considerations when judging decisions in hair discrimination cases, it can become difficult for parties on either side to predict which way a decision will go. Moving towards increased protection against this kind of discrimination in the form of more specific state and federal anti-discrimination statutes will be essential if further progress is to be made on this issue.
Moving Towards Hair Discrimination Protection
Hair discrimination in the workplace is becoming an increasingly prevalent issue and is likely to be addressed through legislation in the near future. But what does this mean for employers and those facing discrimination?
In the United States, it is protected by title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 for certain hair textures and styles associated with racial and ethnic identity. Yet some states have extended the application of these principles well beyond the borders of race or ethnicity. For example, the New York City Human Rights Commission recently adopted a set of guidelines that prohibit discrimination on the basis of one’s “natural hair, textures or styles historically associated with race, including, but not limited to afros, braids, twists and locs.” Currently, California, Vermont and New Jersey are in the process of developing similar laws to protect individuals from discrimination because of their hairstyle or texture.
The argument can be made that protecting hair texture and style under anti-discrimination laws could be overreaching since employers should have some level of control over their employees’ appearance in the workplace. In addition, they may be concerned that adopting policies regarding hairstyle could open them up to additional legal risks related to other types of hairstyles such as facial hair or head coverings associated with religious beliefs. Yet there is an important distinction between an employer mandating a uniform dress code versus creating policies that target specific characteristics associated with race or cultural identity. Employers must also understand that without protections for individuals when it comes to their hair texture or style, individuals would remain vulnerable to unfair dismissal based solely on those factors.
Moving towards greater protection from discrimination on the basis of one’s hair texture and style could lead to increased opportunities for employees across all sectors, as employers are no longer allowed to impose arbitrary standards on their employees’ appearance due to their ethnicity or culture. This could create a more diverse working environment where employers might value different perspectives and experience represented in their workforce. As we move towards greater protection from hair discrimination in the workplace, employers should consider safeguard measures they can take to ensure they remain within the bounds of existing laws while promoting an equitable working environment.
Conclusion: Hair Discrimination in the Workplace is an important issue that requires further examination and protections in order to create fair workplaces free from discriminatory practices based on whether someone’s hair is straight or curly; long or short; colored or not; styled naturally or differently than others’. In this section we discussed how states and cities are beginning to recognize this form of discrimination and provide legal protection for people who face it. We also looked at both sides of this debate as employers must take into consideration how adding additional restrictions might affect their businesses while also allowing a safe place for everyone. In the next section we will conclude by offering potential solutions for creating a more equitable work environment for all those affected by hair bias.
Conclusion: Hair Discrimination in the Workplace
In today’s society, hair discrimination is an issue that needs to be addressed. Individuals are subject to scrutiny in the workplace because of their chosen hairstyle or hair texture, which affects their chances of advancing in their careers. Even though some laws have been put in place to protect individuals against employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin and disability status, such protections do not extend to those who suffer from hair loss or those who choose to wear particular hairstyles.
This lack of protection leaves individuals vulnerable to unfair and discriminatory treatment due to their hair loss. This type of discrimination in the workplace can take many forms — from “quick snide remarks about an employee’s baldness” to “losing out on raises and promotions due to assumption about professionalism and ability” — which can greatly affect one’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
At the same time, employers should have a reasonable expectation of neatness and hygiene for all of its employees so that it can maintain a professional business environment. This can mean instituting policies that determine appropriate attire and hairstyles for employees handling customer service duties or engaging with clients as part of their job duties. When drawing up these rules there needs to be an appreciation for cultural practices which may inform how certain groups choose to wear their hair. A constructive dialogue with employees and taking into account what they feel is acceptable is important when creating policies like these so that everyone is respected and the business environment remains focused on professionalism over appearances.
If someone believes they were unfairly treated because of their hairstyle or hair loss, they should contact legal authorities, who will assess the situation and advise them of their rights. Taking action against employers who disregard laws protecting individuals against employment discrimination based on hair is essential for ensuring fairness for everyone in the workplace.
Responses to Frequently Asked Questions
What evidence have been used in hair care lawsuits?
There have been a variety of evidence used in hair care lawsuits, from scientific research to individual customer accounts.
Scientific research is often used to show that certain hair care products contain irritants or other ingredients that are potentially harmful to their users. For instance, the 2014 hair care lawsuit involving Wen by Chaz Dean alleged that its cleansing conditioner had the potential to cause “severe and possibly permanent damage” to hair due to an ingredient called propylene glycol. The suit referenced several scientific studies to back this claim up.
Individual customer accounts also play a role in hair care litigation. Many suits rely on stories from people who have suffered health problems or experienced adverse reactions after using specific products. Their testimonials provide concrete examples of how particular products may be damaging to users, which can be helpful in convincing a court of the validity of a lawsuit’s claims.
Who are the plaintiffs in hair care lawsuits?
The plaintiffs in hair care lawsuits are typically individuals who have experienced adverse side effects from using a particular product. These plaintiffs may allege that the product caused them to experience sudden, unexpected and/or irreparable hair loss or damage as a result of regular use. In some cases, the lawsuit may be brought on behalf of a class of similarly situated consumers who have experienced similar issues from using the same product. In other cases, individual plaintiffs may bring suit alleging negligence, fraud or false advertising on the part of the manufacturer. Plaintiffs may seek financial compensation for hair and scalp damage, emotional distress, medical expenses related to treating their hair loss or other damages they have incurred as a result of the faulty product.
What legal remedies have been awarded in hair care lawsuits?
There have been several hair care lawsuits that have resulted in various legal remedies, including monetary damages and injunctions.In the landmark case of Lee v. L’Oreal USA Inc., plaintiff John Lee claimed that L’Oreal’s haircare products caused him to suffer permanent hair loss. The jury ultimately found in favor of Lee and awarded him $25 million in damages. Similarly, in Turley v. Conair Corporation, the jury awarded the plaintiff $21 million for losses incurred as a result of hair damage stemming from use of Conair’s product line.
In both cases, judges not only awarded damages for physical harm caused but also for emotional distress associated with hair loss and other side effects suffered by plaintiffs due to use of those products. Additionally, some courts have issued injunctions ordering companies to cease or alter their marketing or manufacturing practices of their beauty and hair care products to ensure consumer safety going forward. For instance, following a series of consumer complaints filed against Garnier LLC regarding its Fructis Sleek & Shine Brazilian Smoothing Shampoo, an injunction was issued mandating the reformulation and relabeling of the product to increase consumer safety.