OLYMPIA – A person with a hairstyle common to one racial or ethnic group couldn’t be discriminated against for a job, housing or a public service under a bill that received final passage Wednesday by the Senate.
On a 38-9 vote, the Senate sent to Gov. Jay Inslee a bill that added hairstyles like Afros or braids to the definition of race discrimination in state law. Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, said that while race has long been protected under that law, it hasn’t been well defined and the bill would offer protections, particularly for employment.
A hearing on the bill produced emotional testimony from people who had faced discrimination because of their hairstyles.
Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, argued the bill was too broad, and could be applied to the New York Yankees, which have strict grooming rules, when playing the Seattle Mariners. Padden added, however, “if something happened to the Yankees, I wouldn’t shed a tear.”
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