Ban on hair discrimination amended, returned to final reading

A bill on final reading that seeks to extend employment discrimination protections was amended Aug. 3 after lawmakers voted to return it to select file.

Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh
Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh

LB1060, as originally introduced by Omaha Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh, would expand the definition of race for purposes of employment discrimination to include traits historically associated with race, such as hair texture and protective hairstyles, including braids, locks and twists.

Senators voted to return the bill to select file to consider an amendment offered by Cavanaugh, which she said incorporated feedback from the state attorney general’s office. The amendment would align the bill’s language with the legally accepted definition of race, she said, which includes hair texture and protective hairstyles.

Sen. Ben Hansen of Blair opposed the bill, saying that it represented government overreach.

“Are we, as a government, encroaching too much on the employer/employee relationship and disproportionately affecting employers and their ability to [do] what’s best for their business?” he said.

After voting 34-0 to adopt Cavanaugh’s amendment, senators advanced the bill to final reading by voice vote.

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