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Nebraska bill aimed at hair discrimination advances

Posted at 5:33 PM, Mar 09, 2020

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska lawmakers advanced new legal protections Monday to prevent companies from discriminating against employees with hairstyles commonly worn by African American women.

Lawmakers gave the measure first-round approval on a 26-9 vote, despite criticism that it wasn’t necessary.

The bill would bar discrimination against people with protective hairstyles, such as twists, locks and braids.

Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh said she introduced the measure in response to women who said they had faced discrimination because of their hairstyles.

The bill’s future remains unclear, however, and it could still change before winning final approval. Two more legislative votes are required before it goes to the governor.

Some conservative lawmakers argued that the measure would open the door to other people claiming discrimination based on their physical features. That drew an angry rebuke from state Sen. Ernie Chambers, of Omaha, who lectured lawmakers about the history of white American slave owners sleeping with female slaves.