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Vermont Prohibits Hairstyle Discrimination

Effective July 1, 2024, the Vermont Fair Employment Practices Act (VFEPA) is amended (H. 363) to prohibit discrimination based on traits associated with or perceived to be associated with race, including hair type, hair texture, hairstyles, and protective hairstyles including (but not limited to) braids, cornrows, locs, afros, wigs, headwraps, and other head coverings. 

Next Steps 

Employers should review and update their existing equal employment opportunity and non-harassment/non-discrimination policies to include updated language regarding the term race. In addition, employers should review and update their existing dress code and/or grooming policies to remove reference to any prohibition on hairstyles. 

Train managers and those involved in the hiring process not to make judgments about professionalism or cultural fit based on how someone wears their hair and to ensure their own unconscious bias does not negatively affect candidates or employees. 

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.