Ms. Hershberger’s Upper East Side salon was among several businesses to be investigated by the commission after employees complained about being discriminated against because of their hair. The investigations led the commission to adopt the new guidelines. A commission spokeswoman said that several businesses remain under investigation.
In the case of the salon, four former workers filed complaints from 2016 to 2018. The first was from a former general manager who was white and said he was sickened by having to enforce a dress code and hair policy that was applied more strictly to black workers than white ones.
Interviewed for an earlier New York Times article, the former manager, David Speer, said that Ms. Dorram pushed for the dress code only after he hired three black women — Taren Guy, Raelene Roberts and Regine Aubourg — as receptionists.
In a text message written by Ms. Dorram, one of several Mr. Speer shared with The Times, she criticized the receptionists’ appearance.
“Today looked awful,” she wrote, saying that Ms. Roberts “had her dreads down” and that Ms. Aubourg “just got hers to match as long.” Ms. Dorram added: “All 3 at desk and we look like we should be on E. 134th Street.” (Ms. Dorram said in February that the hair policy was not racially motivated and that her text messages had been mischaracterized.)
Believed to be the first of their kind in the United States, the city’s guidelines prohibit the targeting of people based on their hairstyle at work and school and in public places. They specifically cite the right to maintain “natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, Afros, and/or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state.”
Since New York City introduced the rules, New York State, New Jersey, California and Montgomery County, Md., have adopted similar measures.