Are you employed in the U.S.? Do you work in the private sector? Are you a non-unionized worker? If you answered yes to all of these questions you’re most likely covered by at-will employment. Being an at-will employee means that you can be fired at any time for any reason or no reason at all. It’s perfectly legal and if it happens, you have no power to get justice. Of course there are covered identity groups and reasons that are illegal to fire someone for, like race or ethnicity. But otherwise, your employer doesn’t need a reason to fire you.
This just changed in New York City! In January, a law was passed in NYC requiring just cause, or a good reason, for firing someone. You can still be fired for not doing your job well but not for having your hair dyed a color your employer doesn’t like. This law is a huge milestone and proves that we are one step closer to passing the PRO Act.
So, it’s hot. Like really, really hot. In huge parts of the country it’s going to be hitting 90 every day this week. This, and all other weather, has a huge effect on our work and workplaces. Warehouses tend not to have air conditioning because it’s too expensive, and it’s nearly hopeless to try to cool a kitchen in service. Usually these workers are just expected to work in 100+ degree conditions with nothing to cool them down. This can cause severe health problems and a few years ago prompted an ER doctor to call OSHA on an Amazon warehouse in Pennsylvania because so many employees had gone to the ER with heatstroke.
Is your employer doing anything to keep you cool during this heatwave? Climate change means that the summers are only going to get hotter and these abnormal heatwaves will get more and more normal. The PRO Act will allow employees to more easily go to their boss with working condition concerns like extreme heat and get a real result.
If you’ve ever worked in the service industry you know the feeling: you tell your manager you can’t work Tuesday nights and they schedule you every. Tuesday. night. You ask your manager about it and they say they can’t help you, so you drop it and try to get your shifts covered or just end up working them yourself.
Now picture this: You tell your manager you can’t work Tuesday nights and they schedule you on Tuesday nights. You talk to the manager about it, they’re dismissive, and instead of dropping it, you talk to your coworkers about it. They’re all having similar problems and you decide to go to your manager together. When you go as a group, you’re protected from retaliation, so you have a productive conversation with your manager and they agree to take another look at the schedule.
The PRO Act allows this second kind of exchange to happen. We need to pass the PRO Act so we have the freedom to talk to our bosses about problems at work.
Every day, people in America are told to change their hair for work, to appear more “professional.”
Whether you wear locs, braids, crop it to 1/2″, like it long & flowing or shaved bald, have it dyed hot pink or left your natural color, you should be able to wear your hair the way you want. The PRO Act will enable any American worker to gather a group of coworkers to go and talk to their boss about relaxing hairstyle policy, without worrying that they will be fired.
In addition to passing the PRO Act, we urge the US Senate to pass Congresswoman Robin Kelly’s CROWN Act, which has been passed by the US House. The CROWN Act prohibits the denial of employment and educational opportunities based on hair texture, including braids, locs, twists, Bantu knots and other hairstyles that have been traditionally worn primarily by people of African descent.