Amanda Meadows graduated from Lehman College with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in May 2019. In January 2020, she opened her own hair salon, named Creative Crowns, in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. Ms. Meadows worked very hard as a hairstylist while attending college, with the goal of owning her own business. She has borrowed money to renovate the salon space and has a very clear idea about the branding for her business. Ms. Meadows purchased her salon from the former owner, who had a successful business for forty (40) years and stable staff for the last twenty (20) years. Many of the clients were elderly white women, who have been wearing the same hairstyle for most of their adult lives.
Ms. Meadows wants her shop to be more diverse in gender and age. She also wants to offer a variety of services, in addition to the hair cut and style. The salon is in a predominately older, white neighborhood and Ms. Meadows understands that the transition to her brand will take time. Therefore, she has offered positions to the three (3) stylists who worked with the former owner and hopes that the clients will continue to have their hair done at Creative Crowns.
Ms. Meadows has also hired six (6) younger stylists who are able to offer a range of services. The stylists must wear clothing that is gray, white and/or black. The newly hired stylists also have a very similar look, with straight hair and a hair cut and color that reflects very specific styles. They are free to change their hairstyle and color, as long as it fits with the Creative Crown brand. Ms. Meadows wants the stylists to “model” the types of styles available to clients. Creative Crowns has two receptionists and several employees who prepare clients, such as washing hair. One of the receptionists is African-American and one of the stylists is Puerto Rican.
Ms. Meadows is looking for a tenth stylist and has interviewed Sandra Anderson. Ms. Anderson recently moved to Riverdale from Brooklyn. She is a New York State licensed cosmetologist and has five (5) years of diverse experience as a stylist. She worked for two (2) years at a salon on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, a predominately white, upper-class neighborhood. She also worked for three (3) years in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, a predominately African-American neighborhood. Her resume highlights experience with: “natural hair texture that is tightly coiled or tightly-curled as well as hairstyles such as locks, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, and Afros.” Ms. Anderson has her hair styled in cornrow braids.
Ms. Meadows does not think that Ms. Anderson will fit with the image of Creative Crown and has told her that she will not be hired as a stylist. Ms. Anderson has filed an employment discrimination complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights.
The New York City Administrative Code, Title 8: Civil Rights
Chapter 1 – Commission on Human Rights
§ 8-101. Policy.
In the city of New York, with its great cosmopolitan population, there is no greater danger to the health, morals, safety, and welfare of the city and its inhabitants than the existence of groups prejudiced against one another and antagonistic to each other because of their actual or perceived differences, including those based on race, color, creed, age, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, partnership status, caregiver status, sexual and reproductive health decisions, uniformed service, any lawful source
of income, status as a victim of domestic violence or status as a victim of sex offenses or stalking, whether children are, maybe or would be residing with a person or conviction or arrest record. The council hereby finds and declares that prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, and discrimination, bias-related violence or harassment and disorder occasioned thereby threaten the rights and proper privileges of its inhabitants and menace the institutions and foundation of a free democratic state. The council further finds and declares that gender-based harassment threatens the terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. A city agency is hereby created with the power to eliminate and prevent discrimination from playing any role in actions relating to employment, public accommodations, and housing and other real estates, and to take other actions against prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, discrimination, sexual harassment, and bias-related violence or harassment as herein provided; and the commission established hereunder is hereby given general jurisdiction and power for such purposes….
§ 8-107. Unlawful discriminatory practices.
17. Disparate impact.
a. An unlawful discriminatory practice based upon disparate impact is established when:
(1) The commission or a person who may bring an action… demonstrates that a policy or practice of a covered entity or a group of policies or practices of a covered entity results in a disparate impact to the detriment of any group protected by the provisions of this chapter; and
(2) The covered entity fails to plead and prove as an affirmative defense that each such policy or practice bears a significant relationship to a significant business objective of the covered entity or does not contribute to the disparate impact;…provided further, that a policy or practice or group of policies or practices demonstrated to result in a disparate impact shall be unlawful where the commission or such person who may bring an action produces substantial evidence that an alternative policy or practice with less disparate impact is available to the covered entity and the covered entity fails to prove that such alternative policy or practice would not serve the covered entity as well. “Significant business objective” shall include, but not be limited to the successful performance of the job
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