Employees at The Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger salon in New York City will now be forced to change their ways after a law passed, making it illegal to discriminate against customers or workers based on their hair.
The New York City Commission on Human Rights changed a city law to include hair discrimination back in February. The effort kickstarted a larger movement that has spread to New Jersey, California and a county in Maryland.
The upscale New York City salon has dozens of high-profile clients like Meg Ryan, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Christie Brinkley and Renée Zellweger. However, the swanky Manhattan hairdresser was forced to pay a $70,000 fine and commit to training "employees to work with Black hair and help advance the careers of stylists who are not white," according to a statement shared by the commission with The New York Times.
A former manager at the salon, David Speer, told The New York Times that Sharon Dorram forced him to implement a harsh dress code after he hired three Black women to work as receptionists. The salon on Manhattan's Upper East Side was one of a handful of businesses that prompted changes to the city law.
“Today looked awful. Rail yne (sic) had her dreads down; Regine just got hers to match as long and of course Tarren (sic) All 3 at desk and we look like we should be on E. 134th Street. Sorry, nor(sic) racist just telling you we are on Mad. and 71st,” Dorram wrote.
Speer, who is white, said he was offended by the comments but Dorram said he misunderstood.
“Can’t be three girls at the desk. Two like this and one with a big afro. What is our image? Please instruct them not to wear hair down and no nose rings,” Dorram added.
Taren Guy, who is a prominent beauty and wellness YouTube blogger, Raelene Roberts and Regine Aubourg confirmed what Speer wrote. The women said they were only received positively if their hair was put up or blown out straight.
Four complaints were filed against the salon for discrimination based on the actions of Dorram, who repeatedly insulted Black employees for their hair and made veiled references to areas of the city that are populated by Black people.
When news of potential lawsuits started to emerge last year, 59-year-old Dorram went to extreme lengths to stop her employees from reporting on her alleged racism. According to The New York Post, she had staff members remove the chairs from the front desk to make the receptionists stand, punishing them for refusing to sign documents claiming the salon had a policy, regardless of race, that forced employees to keep their hair up.
Black hair experts from across New York City will now train the salon's employees in Black hair care while the shop has pledged to create an internship program for stylists that are not white.
“This resolution is another step toward ensuring that racist notions of professional appearance standards are not applied in New York City,” New York City Commission on Human Rights chairwoman Carmelyn Malalis said in a statement to The New York Times.
In addition to the fine, both Hershberger and Dorram now have to complete a certain amount of community service hours with groups that are fighting hair discrimination. Both women also have to be personally trained in treating natural Black hair.
The settlement also says the salons must hire an expert to oversee all of the changes.
Recently, the salon announced that they hired Dr. Gillian Scott-Ward, a widely-known psychologist, documentarian and advocate for natural hair.