In the broad category of government mandates, New York seems to be “running away with it”! This week’s addition in the Big Apple comes from the New York City Commission on Human Rights, which is updating its rules for enforcing the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL). The new guidelines from the Commission specifically state that “Black hairstyles are protected racial characteristics under the NYCHRL because they are an inherent part of Black identity.” The guidelines go on to caution employers that there “is a strong, commonly-known racial association between Black people and hair styled into twists, braids, cornrows, Afros, Bantu knots, fades, and/or locs”. The commission goes on to state that employers are assumed to know of this association and therefore are engaging in unlawful race discrimination when they target natural hair or hairstyles associated with Black people, and/or harass Black employees based on their hair. Violations can result in $250,000 in penalties with no caps on damages and the Commission has the power to force internal policy changes and even re-hiring at offending institutions. Given the severity of violations, be sure your policy is in compliance.